* Posts by Jon 37

592 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Nov 2009


LockBit redraws negotiation tactics after affiliates fail to squeeze victims

Jon 37

Re: You write this as if

I don't blame the victims for being hit by ransomware.

I certainly blame the "victims" for funding future ransomware attacks on others, by paying up.

And I do blame the victims for not having usable offline backups. I mean, their computers could have failed for other reasons, so backups, and testing those backups, are essential anyway. Ransomware is a known problem which you can "insure" against by having offline backups, and testing them.

Oh, and I blame the police for not arresting the ransomware gangs,. And I blame the politicians for not making that happen.

SolarWinds says SEC sucks: Watchdog 'lacks competence' to regulate cybersecurity

Jon 37

Re: In my opinion...

There needs to be a balance.

Even the best security can be breached. Putting people in prison for not being perfect, leads to covering up breaches, which is counterproductive.

But in this case, their security failures were so severe that prosecuting the company seems reasonable.

FTX crypto-villain Sam Bankman-Fried convicted on all charges

Jon 37

It helped that SBF asked for a speedy trial. Apparently people have the legal right to do that in the US.

Uncle Sam orders Nvidia to cease most AI chip sales in China 'immediately'

Jon 37

Re: Can you

You can run AI code on any graphics card.

Dedicated AI cards don't have a socket for a display, but are otherwise the same as a graphics card.

The chips used are also optimized differently, so using a GPU chip will be a bit slower. E.g. an AI chip may remove some bits of the chip that are not needed for AI, and add more copies of the bits that are needed for AI. An AI chip may also be designed for performance in ways that would be too expensive or use too much electrical power for a gaming graphics card.

US prosecutors slam Autonomy tycoon's attempt to get charges tossed

Jon 37

The money went from HP to the former owners of Autonomy.

Note that some of the former owners of Autonomy may not have known about the fraud.

The losers are HP shareholders. HP could have given those billions to shareholders via a dividend payment, but they chose to spend it on Autonomy instead.

Jon 37

The problem was that the company was pulling financial tricks to artificially inflate it's sales numbers.

They then told HP that their sales were real. That's the fraud.

The numbers were clearly "too good to be true", but HP didn't notice and/or didn't care.

HP was clearly an idiot, and clearly negligent in its responsibilities to it's shareholders.

However, it's also true that Autonomy was illegally cooking the books.

Fears China could trash Broadcom's VMware nuptials as revenge for sanctions

Jon 37

If you want to sell your products into the EU/UK/China, then you have to abide by the laws of the EU/UK/China.

That includes the laws that stop you from buying all your competitors to become a monopoly, and then abusing that monopoly.

The merged company wants to continue selling its goods into those countries.

Also, the two companies likely have subsidiaries in the EU/UK/China, so the change of ownership of those subsidiaries is subject to EU/UK/China law.

So the merger agreement includes a clause that says the two companies will ask all the relevant authorities for permission. If the two companies can't get permission for the merger, then the merger agreement says that the merger will be cancelled.

Workload written by student made millions, ran on unsupported hardware, with zero maintenance

Jon 37

Re: I'm curious...

You joke, but if they were trading on the electricity generation market, then measuring the mains frequency could actually be useful. It is the same across the whole grid, and corresponds directly to the difference between generated supply and consumption at that instant in time. Slightly high if there's too much electricity generation, and slightly low if there's not enough electricity generation.

Unity CEO 'retires' in the wake of fee fiasco

Jon 37

Re: Promise

Some programming tools charge for the runtime, and that can be a completely reasonable thing to do.

However, developers hate it. They would much rather pay for the tools and have a royalty free runtime. It avoids a whole bunch of complexity, regarding counting installations and paying the vendor. It also avoids the risk that the vendor will increase the runtime price.

So it's understandable that they promised never to charge for the runtime. It was a major feature.

One thing developers hate more than paid runtimes, are tool vendors who try to change the deal after the developer has invested a huge amount of time and money building programs with their tool.

Decades-old Home Office asylum system misses EOL deadline, no new timetable in place

Jon 37

Re: Why why why

There's a migration path from VB6 to VB.net. They could migrate the code to a modern development platform, while making no other changes to it.

That would solve the issue with an unsupported software stack.

If they wanted an even better software stack, they could port that VB.net code to C#. That is a widely used programming language, making it easier to recruit developers.

Then they could spend some time cleaning up that VB6-style C# code.

Criminals go full Viking on CloudNordic, wipe all servers and customer data

Jon 37

Re: Offline backups??

This is sadly common. It makes backups easier and faster. It makes restoring from backup easier and faster.

It also means that your backups offer no protection against ransomware or a hacker.

Microsoft wants Activision so badly, it's handing streaming rights over to ... Ubisoft?

Jon 37

After 15 years they can go on as they wanted to originally.

See: the EU web browser antitrust case against Microsoft. The remedy that was imposed. And the fact that as soon as that remedy expired, they started pushing Edge and Bing hard.

AVX10: The benefits of AVX-512 without all the baggage

Jon 37

Re: flags

Intel's libraries and compiler are great if you only care about Intel chips.

There have been documented cases in the past where their libraries/compilers would specifically detect that they are running on non-Intel chips and deliberately run a slower version of the code, despite the CPU supporting the faster version that they use on Intel chips. This gave Intel an unfair advantage in CPU performance comparisons. I have no idea if they are still doing that or not.

For example, see this post from 2009: https://www.agner.org/optimize/blog/read.php?i=49

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

Jon 37

What do you mean by "built to last"?

If you mean "built to last forever", well that's not really possible. Some examples of long-lasting buildings: The Pyramids are significantly damaged. Westminster Abbey (the UK parliament building next to Big Ben) needs major renovations.

If you mean "build each part to last for as long as possible", that's just a waste of money. There's no point paying extra for a roof that will last 100 years, if the frame holding it up will only last 50 years. When you replace the frame you're going to have to replace the roof anyway. So it's better to get the cheaper roof that will only last 50 years. And if you're building for a project that's only supposed to take 10 years, then even that is a waste of money - you should go for the roof and frame that are cheaper but will only last 25 years, or 20 years.

Spacecraft are different. And a lot of it is PR. If they put a rover on Mars, that costs a lot of money. Operating it is only a tiny part of the cost. And there's a whole bunch of science that rover can do. So of course they're going to plan to run it until it breaks. However, if they say "we plan to run this for 10 years", and it breaks after 9 years, then the mission gets branded a "failure", which is bad PR. Better to pretend it's a 3 month mission, and keep "extending it" until the rover breaks. That way it becomes a huge success. And it's not possible to predict exactly when the rover will fail - at best you have probabilities, but even that depends on how it actually performs when it gets there, which you can't know in advance.

Jon 37

Re: It is a tragedy...

What science requires putting a man on the moon?

Landers and rovers can do science there, for less money.

If you want to put a man on the moon again because "it's cool", or as a point of national pride, or "to inspire people", fine, but please don't call that science.

And if you want cool engineering challenges to solve, perhaps lets try to reduce global warming a bit? And mitigate the impacts that it's going to have?

Soft-reboot in systemd 254 sounds a lot like Windows' Fast Startup

Jon 37

Re: Hmmm

That is staying, because it is useful. It's just the /bin Vs /usr/bin part that is being merged.

Microsoft’s Dublin DC power plant gets the, er, green light

Jon 37

Re: No SMR?

SMR are not ready for deployment yet.

They need to build a demonstration plant. Which will probably be more expensive than planned and take longer than planned - these things always do. Then they need to demonstrate it working reliably for a bit.

Then, I hope, we can have a large scale rollout of SMRs.

I do really hope that SMRs work, and get somewhere close to their mass production cost and ease of construction goals. Nuclear is important to fight climate change. CHP and district heating/cooling would also be a boost for efficiency, and SMRs would be a good fit for that. But without a working demonstration plant, we don't know enough to plan for real deployments.

Jon 37

Re: more than 150 diesel generators

It is completely normal for a data center to have sufficient diesel generators to keep running if there is a power outage. The generators and sufficient diesel will be on site and wired to start automatically if power is lost.

Once you have a working, tested design, you don't mess with it. Making the gas generators start automatically, and ensuring that is reliable, is just too much work and/or too risky.

So the data center has diesel generators for reliability, when there is an unplanned power cut. And it has gas generators for when running those is cheaper than buying electricity from the grid. But the gas generators are not mission critical, they are just there to save some money. If the gas generators fail, or are down for maintenance, that does not affect the reliability of the data center.

US Air Force burns more money on electric flying taxis

Jon 37
Black Helicopters

I'm wondering if this is a potential special forces delivery vehicle.

Right now, they can use helicopters for some special forces operations. If this really is quieter, that may be an advantage. For a quick trip across a border, or from a Navy ship to some target near the coast.

Europe's USB-C deadline: Lightning must be struck from iPhone by December, 2024

Jon 37

It means that if you accidentally use the cable that came with your mobile phone, to connect your laptop to your laptop charger, it will work and charge at the normal speed for your laptop.

This is good for consumers. If you want things to charge quickly, you still have to make sure you are using the right charger (or a charger that is more powerful than that). You no longer have to worry about "am I using the right cable".

Multi-tasking blunder leaves UK tax digitization plans 3 years late, 5 times over budget

Jon 37

You could move to new systems with better structured internals, without substantially changing the way the rest of the world interfaces with the tax office.

Then start making changes to the interfaces.

German finance minister says nein to more Intel subsidy cash

Jon 37

But The Register was originally British. It was a .co.uk site for a long time.

1. This crypto-coin is called Jimbo. 2. $8m was stolen from its devs in flash loan attack

Jon 37

Re: Interested in whether its illegal

The design is intended to be "no regulations".

But actually, in the US, some cryptos are legally considered securities, and some DeFI stuff is securities or futures. (I think all of them are, but the regulators haven't taken that position... Yet).

Securities are subject to a bunch of rules. They are supposed to be enforced by the SEC. Even though it has done a poor job so far, it has taken some action, and can go after people for things they have done in the past.

Similarly CFTC and the crypto futures.

This typo sparked a Microsoft Azure outage

Jon 37

Re: Cloud values are shall we say rather terse

It was never designed to be human readable. As a way for a program to talk to a web server, JSON is fine. It was only later that it got used for configuration files, where the lack of comments is a nightmare.

Jon 37

Re: As for ...

The sarcasm tag goes around the second paragraph. But not the first.

Google Photos AI still can't label gorillas after racist errors

Jon 37

Re: Racist?

The problem is that, no matter how well trained the AI is, there is no way to guarantee it won't make the same mistake again. At least with the current state of AI. So blocking potentially offensive answers is the only way to avoid future PR problems for the companies involved.

Fahrenheit to take over Celsius

Jon 37

Re: I don't get it

1. Ponzi scheme was set up. Called "Celsius". You could deposit crypto there, and get a huge interest rate. Far more than Celsius were getting.

2. Ponzi scheme ran out of money, and went bankrupt, but still had a few tens or possibly (unlikely) hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.

3. Investors in the Ponzi scheme lost all their money.

4. New "Investors", calling themselves "Fahrenheit", offer to buy the assets, give some (unspecified) amount of them to the people who lost money, and keep ("manage") the rest.

5. Somehow the US bankruptcy courts are entertaining this craziness.

Note: Anyone offering you a low risk high reward investment is scamming you, or an idiot, or both.

Experimental brain-spine computer interface helped a paralyzed man walk

Jon 37

Re: Regenerative medicine

Presumably if the cancer is caused by a genetic mutation in some cells, then fixing that would at least stop the cancer from growing and spreading?

(To be clear, I don't agree with all the nonsense posted above. Just curious about your total rejection of a genetic treatment for at least some cancers. I was under the impression that was actually starting to be done. But maybe I have misunderstood and this is a chance for me to learn something new?)

Offshore wind power redesign key to adoption, says Irish firm

Jon 37

Re: Jam tomorrow

The UK government has been trying to build a long-term waste repository for decades. The "green" lobby has campaigned against it, successfully, just because nuclear is "bad". Meanwhile we have a lot of long-term waste being kept in "temporary" storage, and nowhere to put it.

There's also the NIMBY problem. No-one wants a garbage dump in their back yard, and no-one wants a long-term nuclear waste repository anywhere near them. But we need one somewhere.

The USA has the same problem.

It's not a technical or financial problem. We know how to do it and the government is willing to spend the money. It's a political problem.

Jon 37

Re: Jam tomorrow

You need to add decommissioning costs to that nuclear power price. But it's probably still cheaper than renewables, and doesn't have the intermittency problems.

Upstart encryption app walks back privacy claims, pulls from stores after probe

Jon 37

Re: It both is and isn't a hard problem

That's just a way of solving part of the key distribution problem.

It does not protect against an active attacker that can modify the communications. The attacker can substitute in their own negotiation messages, so Alice and Bob both have secure communications with Eve, not with each other. Eve can then forward the messages so they don't notice.

It does not help with the problem of "is this really the person I think it is".

Biden proposes 30% tax on cryptominers' power bills

Jon 37

It gives companies time to prepare for it. E.g. stop investing in new equipment and wind down operations that will be unprofitable with the new tax, or find ways to be more energy efficient.

For most other new taxes it's a good idea. For this one, I don't think it is.

Jon 37

Re: 30%?

I disagree. But only because this tax rate can go above 100%. Perhaps 500% or 2500%.

So if they use $1m in electricity, they pay $1m for their electricity plus $5m or $25m in tax.

Tesla wins key court battle over Autopilot crash blame

Jon 37

The problem is not that it's an autopilot. The problem is it's like a real world aircraft autopilot, not a Hollywood aircraft/spacecraft autopilot.

The real world aircraft autopilot flies a simple route, and should be constantly monitored by the pilot, ready to take over if it fails.

Hollywood autopilots are magic that can do everything a real pilot would, and can be left unattended, and are completely reliable unless the plot demands they fail.

It's also worth pointing out that real world aircraft autopilots are usually* used when there is plenty of space around the aircraft in all directions, so there is plenty of space and time to recover if they go wrong. Cars not so much.

(* Yes, autoland is a thing. But that is landing at a known, preprogrammed point, with radio beacons on the ground to guide you to the exact point. And both pilots are watching really carefully.)

US Supreme Court snubs that guy who wants AI recognized as patent inventors

Jon 37

They probably want to use AI to create huge numbers of vague and/or obvious patents, and then sue people, and make money from settlements.

Yes, Samsung 'fakes' its smartphone Moon photos – who cares?

Jon 37

Re: I may be wrong, but I think El Reg has gone the wrong way with this one.

Also, there is a difference between "taking a photograph", "enhancing the image", and "making stuff up".

If you want to use a photo in court, you really want to just take a photo. Minor automatic enhancements, such as brightness and contrast, are fine.

But this is an AI that is inventing details that are just not there. That is not reliable evidence to use in court.

Got a photo of a hit and run? Now, how do you know if the camera actually caught the correct registration number, or if the registration was an unreadable blur so the AI just made something up? How do you know if the drivers face was captured correctly, or if the AI decided to "fix" the glare on the windshield by inserting a random AI generated face? Did the AI misinterpret a smudge of dirt on the car as paintwork damage, and hence invent details of paintwork damage that are just not there, and can be proven to not match the car the police impounded?

Financial red tape blamed for London losing Arm IPO

Jon 37

Getting out at the top

It's a good time for SoftBank to sell ARM.

RISC-V is slowly becoming a major competitor to ARM's instruction set monopoly. I expect that within 10 years, low end Chinese Android devices will mostly be using RISC-V to save a few cents. The high end phones will probably take longer, but a Google Pixel with RISC-V is possible within that timescale.

For low end microcontrollers, such as in a washing machine, the switch will happen much faster. The first products are already available.

It's early enough that the financial wizards will not see the threat, or will discount it as something ARM can compete with.

Everyone uses Arm cores due to the huge ecosystem of tools. And Arm is the monopoly owner of the instruction set. Companies cannot compete with Arm by selling a better Arm core design, because they would have to license the instruction set from Arm, and Arm could refuse or make it expensive.

With RISC-V, the ecosystem is now there. And there are multiple companies competing to offer the best cores. Arm could try to compete by using it's skills and experience to build great RISC-V cores, but ultimately they will be a commodity.

Amid FTX's burning wreckage, Japan outpost promises asset withdrawals in February

Jon 37

Re: That's Inefficient

I think your sarcasm was too subtle

Jon 37

If you deliberately transfer money out of a company to protect that money from the bankruptcy, and then the company goes bankrupt, then:

1. That is a crime

2. The judge can and will undo that transaction. You will have to pay it back.

Twitter tweaks third-party app rules to ban third-party apps

Jon 37

Re: Why should they feel obligated to refund anyone?

You don't get a refund on the first two as you can get electricity or Internet from another supplier.

You get a refund on the Twitter app as it only supports accessing Twitter, and you bought it specifically to work with Twitter, and there is no alternative that you can use with that app.

Jon 37

Re: API?

You can create tools to do things that the standard Twitter web site cannot.

The ban is on creating tools that do the same things as the Twitter website.

License to launch: UK space regulator gives Virgin Orbit satellites the go-ahead

Jon 37

Re: Second Life

They tend to be a lot simpler.

Compare maintenance of a standard bicycle versus a reasonably modern car. Any competent mechanical person can repair the bike. The modern car will depend on specialist parts that are a lot harder to make.

(Ok, the example takes it to extremes. It's not that bad. But you get the idea).

NASA retires Mars InSight mission after it enters ‘dead bus’ condition

Jon 37

Re: Dead bus

The "spacecraft bus" is the basic spacecraft that you add your sensors to.

It includes the power system, communications to control the spacecraft, and some sort of computer to coordinate what the spacecraft is doing. It also includes the mechanical frame of the satellite.

For normal satellites (not Mars Landers!), the bus can often be bought as a standard "off the shelf" part. The bus design will have flown on other satellites so is known to work. This lets the satellite designer concentrate on the part that makes their satellite unique.

OneCoin co-founder pleads guilty to $4 billion fraud

Jon 37

Re: "an MLM scheme"

No, most crypto is not an MLM. It's a Ponzi scheme.

Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Jon 37

Re: Tiny...

It is EXTREMELY rare for a lake high up in the mountains to be tidal! It's not something that people would even consider.

China: Face-to-face meetings are best when swapping space station crews

Jon 37

Guess you are too young to remember Challenger?

Space Shuttle Challenger was launched by NASA on a very cold day. The engineers warned that the seals on the boosters would probably fail at that temperature. They launched anyway. The boosters failed and the spacecraft exploded, completely destroying it.

All aboard died.

Although after the initial explosion, the cabin was fairly intact, and if you look closely it can be seen on the video as a single large piece of debris. At least some of the crew survived the initial explosion and probably died about a minute or so later when the remains of the cabin hit the sea. We know this because they recovered the wreckage and observed that the crew had started the emergency procedures for depressurisation. There was no escape procedure for the crew - no escape capsule, no parachutes, nothing they could do.

The crew included a "normal person", a teacher, who was going up to demonstrate how routine and safe space travel had become.

NASA had done a huge PR effort for the mission, especially focused on schoolchildren. Lots of schools had been doing projects about what Challenger was planned to do, and had more projects planned including lessons broadcast live from the teacher in space. The launch was broadcast live to the world, and the schools had encouraged their pupils to watch it. So lots of schoolchildren saw the explosion live. It was far more memorable than expected, it left a deep impression on a generation of space enthusiasts. Not something I will forget.

How not to test a new system: push a button and wait to see what happens

Jon 37

Re: Why not use the backup generators.

I'd write down on paper:


To whom it may concern,

I am aware that there has been a power outage, and the power is still out.

I have been told by IT that the documented, agreed, and tested procedure is to fail over the IT systems to the backup site.

I have been told by IT that restarting the IT systems here, on generators, is not the documented or agreed procedure, and has not been tested.

I am ordering IT to try to restart the IT systems here, on generators.



<Name of senior Manager>

Date: xx/xx/xx Time: xx:xx


Then I would give that piece of paper to the director and ask them to sign it to confirm the order.

Any sane person would take one look at that and refuse to sign it, and let the IT people follow the plan.

If the director is stupid enough to sign, then they get what they deserve.

Software company wins $154k for US Navy's licensing breach

Jon 37

Re: "Bitmanagement [..] disabled the copy protection software on BS Contact Geo"

You may not be able to have software on a classified network "phone home" to a license server.

US Supreme Court asked if cops can plant spy cams around homes

Jon 37

Re: Stakeout

There are practical limits on the number of stakeouts that the police can run at any one time. They have limited manpower.

Using cameras works around that problem, allowing surveillance on a massive scale that would have been unimaginable to the authors of the Constitution.

So the question is is: does the constitution allow the police to do that without a warrant?

FTX disarray declared 'unprecedented' by exec who cleaned up after Enron

Jon 37

Re: "unprecedented"

He cannot write that in court documents unless he has evidence. So he's assuming incompetence until he can prove deliberate fraud