* Posts by erikj

56 posts • joined 4 Dec 2009


BOFH: Guys? Guys? We need blockchain... can you install blockchain?


Re: Blockchain is the new XML

Somehow, I don't think XML was the problem.

That was fast... unlike old iPhones: Apple sued for slowing down mobes


Re: "To provide a better experience to customers"

Thanks very much. Not sure why I deserved 10 downvotes for an honest question. Oh wait, it's El Reg.


Re: "To provide a better experience to customers"

...and if I plop down $89 (or whatever) to replace the battery in my iPhone 6, would its CPU still get throttled down just because it's an older model?

A draft US law to secure election computers that isn't braindead. Well, I'm stunned! I gotta lie down


It seems sensible and is thus doomed

I'm expecting IBM to first lobby convince Congress that an federally mandated "National Blockchain" will solve the problem.

Parents claim Disney gobbled up kids' info through mobile games


M-I-C-K-E-Y. . .

I'm 54 years old, and that reference is before my time. Thanks for that -- it's almost like being carded at a bar again! But I'm worried a bit about El Reg's apparent demographics.

Tech industry thumps Trump's rump over decision to leave Paris climate agreement


Re: cripple your own economy

> Oh yeah, how's that going...

Actually, manufacturing is going rather well in the USA, where productivity has exceeded pre-recession levels for some time. It's improving in the UK, too. Much of that growth obviously comes from automation, but it's also because technology makes it possible to put a clean(er) factory in neighborhoods that once abhorred industry.

IMO, it was stupid for the USA to leave the Paris Accords. There's no direct benefit in withdrawing, given the flexibilities of the agreement. And it will negatively impact how quickly the USA is able to adopt the very technologies and practices that are actually driving manufacturing growth. It makes so sense.

I think (most) people realize that the "classic" manufacturing jobs are never coming back. Even coal mines are highly automated. And so the manufacturing recovery will mainly benefit corporates, tax regimes and trade balances rather than directly benefitting people. That in turn will put more pressure to "do something" politically. And that's exactly what the withdrawal is -- a political point to score.

Bullyboy Apple just blew a $500m hole in our wallet, cries Qualcomm


Re: Qualcomm will lose the suit

> should they get a percentage of the sales price of the entire airplane?

The answer is "yes" if those are the terms specified in their signed contract. This was once a pretty common practice in the software space where embedded platform providers charged a percentage of the net license / maintenance for the entire ISV solution. The whole "zero down payment" approach seems a good deal if you're a startup, have no cash, and want to get to market quickly. And then it eats you alive.

Anyhoo, it seems like Apple needs to prove QCom is a monopoly or is somehow using exclusionary tactics (like Intel). Otherwise, they'll need to stop using the QCom tech or renegotiate the agreement (which is what this is really about). Maybe Apple can prove QCom intentionally stalled the renegotiations, but I'm not sure how far that would get them.

California to put all your power-hungry PCs on a low carb(on) diet


Re: I wonder what they're planning to break

As a resident of the Golden State, this doesn't bother me much. I skimmed the staff report (link below). It makes high-efficiency LEDs mandatory (3-5 watt savings while "on"), which are already becoming the norm for Energy Star 6.1. It also makes "80 Plus" or better PSUs a standard. The rest is mostly in flight already as manufacturers move toward SSDs and more efficient GPUs. The proposal doesn't appear to apply to printers.

I'm sure there's some exuberance behind the anticipated savings figures, but 2.5 terawatt hours and 783,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas saved per year got my attention. There's a lot of tech at my house. I just hope overclocking doesn't become a misdemeanor.


Gartner: Brexit to wipe $4.6bn off tech spending in Blighty


Lost your proofreader already in the #Brexit?

Some duplicated paragraphs and the wrong currency symbol ("The pound fell Friday morning against the US dollar to its lowest level in 30 years – to £1.32.") makes me think El Reg was distracted today.

Brit Olympian defies Zika with frozen man oysters


Good to keep one's options alive (or frozen).

So the thinking here is to ensure they (or herself, unilaterally) can become pregnant sometime between his arrival in Brazil and a point after his return where the risk is no longer a factor? Clearly, the Rutherford/Verrill family calendar pinned to the kitchen wall is way more interesting than mine.

Mads Torgersen and Dustin Campbell on the future of C#


The Billion Dollar Mistake

If anyone has time to view it, InfoQ has a video of Sir Tony's "Null References: The Billion Dollar Mistake" talk from QCon London in 2009 here: https://www.infoq.com/presentations/Null-References-The-Billion-Dollar-Mistake-Tony-Hoare

The whole talk is good (if you're into languages) and the bit where he talks about inventing the Null Reference (and how Java's minders came to a similar conclusion 30 years later) starts at 8:30. The criticism of null pointers is talked about at 19:00. Warning: Here is a luminary computer scientist trying to get an engaging rise out of a room of software architects. No dryer humor will you find on this planet.

Snowden 'more helpful than dangerous' says ex-Colin Powell aide


A little late, Mr. Wilkerson

From the article: “I think the worst possible thing for the United States would be to get Snowden back some way, by hook or by crook, and have to live up to its horrible rhetoric about what they’ll do to him, because they will,” he said.

The article actually gets more somber from there, as if Mr. Wilkerson has realized the bed he's made for himself. But I really don't understand Mr. Snowden's offer to return to the U.S. in exchange for a "fair trial" or, well, anything.


Feds spank Asus with 20-year audit probe for router security blunder



I have had an ASUS router since January, which has been working really well. When I set it up, I tried to be a good tech consumer and clicked the button looking for any firmware updates. It said none were available. I also clicked the "Check Signature" button, which cryptically (no pun intended) returns a worrying message "Signature update completely".

After reading this article I went to the ASUS web site -- something I should have done on the first day -- and discovered there had been FOUR firmware updates released since the August 2015 date when the out of the box firmware had been released. It's good ASUS is releasing updates (and giving credit to those contributing security fixes). But how hard is it to wire that stupid button to a working updater service?

FWIW, my previous WiFi router was an all-in-one combined with a cable modem. In the US, that means that ZERO firmware updates can be installed by the end user. Any updates have to be pushed from my cable company. Good luck to anyone relying on that.

Who wants a quad-core 4.2GHz, 64GB, 5TB SSD RAID 10 … laptop?


Re: Luggable

Just to continue the digression, the first Kaypro portables were built in my neighborhood, but it was clear they had no clue what they were doing. They tried to convert their voltmeter factory (they were originally Non-Linear Systems) into a modern computer manufacturing building. But they wedged receiving and shipping together in a back corner of the lot, which jammed operations. The layout didn't match their processes, so material had to crisis-cross the buildings. And we they came to my company seeking a new integrated MRP system, they mandated the product had to run on a Kaypro. But sadly, we had decided porting our product to CP/M to get the deal wasn't worth the effort.

Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it


Re: If Pluto is taken.

My aged computer science background says we should increment the planet number by 10s in case we have to someday insert new planets between the ones we know about today.

Att: Windows Phone owners: Win 10 Mobile has been spotted and it wants your phone


W10 Mobile Wasn't Ready

I switched from my W8.1 Lumia 1020 to a 950 over the holiday and, out of the box, it was a massive step backwards. I like the hardware a lot, but the software was barely fit for purpose. El Reg's review was being generous -- it was immensely frustrating.

I won't enumerate my list of peeves, but I think much of it comes down to Microsoft having started over on many of the apps (and dropping the Nokia Here collection). The move to Universal apps seems to have introduced bugs and dropped features, especially in commonly used apps like Photos. Even asking Cortana to "call home" stopped working (I figured out why later on).

But after the firmware update and having all 71 apps go through *three* rounds of updates, the phone has become usable and reliable. I just wish the music app was fit for purpose, at least for those of us with existing music collections. I also wish Cortana would stop giving me status reports for flights that have nothing to do with me.

Brit filmmaker plans 10hr+ Paint Drying epic


Re: Excellent!

Make sure there's a reason for the film to be rejected and then submit for reconsideration within 42 days. Then they have to watch it again.


DC judge rips into the NSA over mass surveillance


Re: Government Denying Wrongdoing

First of all, us Yanks really have no control over who gets a Nobel Peace Prize and, well, he's hardly new. Not to mention he was elected, mainly, because the previous guy allowed the economy to get wrecked while obsessing over non-existent WMDs.

But regardless of party or country, we've seen how well government intelligence services play their executives and legislators by exploiting technical ignorance and crafting the legal loopholes. The (open) Judiciary is honestly our only hope, which is one reason agencies work so hard to keep cases from ever seeing light in a courtroom.

Top FBI lawyer: You win, we've given up on encryption backdoors


Impinging Cops

Comey decried the decision by Apple and Google to turn on file system encryption ... complaining that it was impinging the ability of cops to do their jobs.

He also believes Ferguson, MO is somehow impinging the ability of cops (nationwide) to do their jobs.

Crash Google Chrome with one tiny URL: We cram a probe in this bug


Re: Want to play.

I'm not sure of the point of the post either. But I'll take a catastrophic browser crash over a critical nuke event. It looks like the relative investment protecting us from either has worked out for the best.

Living reasonably close, fallout-wise, to Coronado CA, I'm wondering what software system is apparently sole prevention from one or more of the 160* W-80 nuclear warheads from doing what comes unnaturally, while also saving untold millions in cost. I do hope system integrity does not rely on further maintenance of a PDP-11/94 running Trusted Xenix.

I'm assuming the author wasn't referring to a possibly more hazardous source of radioactive material on Coronado Island, which is all related to medical devices. Off the navel base, the place is quite gray-haired.

* A 2002 figure from the National Resources Defense Council

Daredevil Brit lifts off in 54-prop quinquaquadcopter


the vehicle "has little yaw authority"

...nor much authority for pitch either, as seen at 2:20, where the videographer became rather concerned for Paul's safety.

FTC lunges at Kickstarter bloke who raised $120,000 – and delivered sweet FA


Re: it's the US...

Upvote from me. The FTC took action because the bloke didn't actually use any funding for the project -- not because the project was risky. Of course, it's arguable that's all part of the risk.

'The Internet of Things is like the Cloud 8 years ago' ... Boss of Dell's new IoT biz spills beans


"95 per cent of IoT data is useless"

Dell might think twice before assigning Mr. Rhodes to write brochure copy for their IoT gateway devices.

That EVIL TEXT that will CRASH your iPhone: We pop the hood


Re: Full Text

My kids and their mates have been gleefully crashing each others iStuff all week at school -- so I'd say the vulnerability is rather well publicized in the wild. I see it as a digital (and slightly better) equivalent to smashing actual mailboxes -- and possibly just as much of a federal crime. Time to have a fatherly chat.

World loses John Nash, the 'Beautiful Mind'


Re: John Nash, Ladia Diana, when will it end.

I'm not sure what's meant by pointing out your visitor was American (well, maybe I am). But I will say that despite regulations, it's sometimes impossible to actually locate the seatbelts in our often decrepit American taxis.

NSA: SO SORRY we backed that borked crypto even after you spotted the backdoor


The NSA has no real standing on helping secure anything

I'm not an expert on technical aspects, but I don't see why anyone would see the NSA (or any similar agency) as having any role in ensuring any data can be sent with absolute security. If the NSA knows some crypto is truly secure, they will never admit publically such a method is safe. So, any method the NSA recommend *has* to have been broken. It's that simple. I'm guessing RSA incorporated NSA-approved crypto components mainly to secure government business -- a win-win for the NSA.

The NSA's (and some of Congress') public comments are exemplary in their ability to say something while saying nothing. The massive data vault being assembled in (I think) Utah (and probably elsewhere) is absolutely designed to capture every packet of digital communications transmitted from all points of the world. The encrypted bits will get summarily decrypted and indexed, either through vulnerabilities or by brute force, in advance of any potential warrant for the content. The NSA likely thinks they can do this even with domestic communications because the end result is sealed from outside investigators until a warrant is presented (and it's a pretty low bar to get one). Meanwhile, I recall it only takes a 50.1% likelihood that the communications qualifies as domestic to give that modicum of protection.

I don't envy the NSA's mission though. They are trying to operate in a world where the public demands both absolute privacy and protection from destructive actors using these same protections to help execute truly evil things. But the laws protecting privacy (for U.S. citizens, at least) are just plain hollow. Our protections are in the hands of a few secretly appointed judges who do not understand what they are being asked and have no real public oversight. I doubt they've rejected a single application for a warrant. This is my biggest problem with the whole situation. The Congress also needs to stop being toothless, ignorant enablers of this secret court -- but Congress' credibility is nothing to crow about either.

The NSA should just stay out of the commercial security business and stay away from academic contributions because they have no standing or credibility. They should quietly listen on targets identified by a (eventual) transparent oversight process and make it easier for the constituent agencies to obey the law. As things stand today, there is *nothing* these agencies can't get away with. And that's probably what they all want.

Concerning Microsoft Azure Active Directory


Re: Advertorial?

The last paragraph aside, I thought the piece was informative (uncharacteristically for El Reg). But it does lack balance -- no negative aspects to report? Really?

Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth


Re: Blasphemy

"What is it?"

"Well it's -- um -- it's green"

If your kid blew $$$s on in-app tat, Google has a slice of $19m+ for you


How about XBox?

So, I have this, um, friend whose teenager recently racked up quite an Xbox bill on in-app purchases via an Amex card, which was provided by my friend's spouse for a one-time purchase some months ago. Just wondering if the Apple and Google situation might bleed over to Microsoft. Maybe I'll tell my friend to hang on to his Amex statements, just in case?

Nadella: Yes I can put 2 THINGS FIRST. I will say them at the same time – CLOUDOBILE



My cynicism is usually front and center, but I thought his presentation was good. I tried reading that 3300 word essay and lost the will to live midway through "Core". On stage, though, he had no script or even an outline and his pitch was better than any other PDC keynote. Even though all other presenters had notes handy, that was not a high bar to hurdle.

NASA to unsheath giant asteroid space probe



I think 'Security' == funding. NASA's description of the mission speaks mainly about mining stuff from asteroids, downplaying the bit where (some say) Bennu has a one-tenth percent chance of colliding with Earth by 2199. I'm sure the boffins suggested finding out what Bennu is made of is helpful both to mining studies as well as figuring out what's needed to perhaps blow the thing up.

US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support


Likely an easy IT spend decision

...compared to what's spent keeping other, much older gov systems running -- not to mention the seemingly endless inability to successfully drive a major IT project.

Windows Phone 8.1: Like WinPho 8, but BETTER


Re: Free?

It's free because Microsoft is about to be a major handset provider once the Nokia acquisition is done. If MSFT charges, say, Samsung for the O/S, then their former Nokia operations also have to "pay" for it, albeit through some audit-friendly royalty chargeback I don't understand.

It's the same situation MS Dynamics have in wishing they could bundle MSFT kit like SQL and SharePoint kit into ERP without incurring a cost impact. It's not allowed in many jurisdictions.

Microsoft CEO Nadella names his Xbox and Cloud OVERLORDS


Good for Guthrie

Stowing the usual snarkiness, it's good to see someone who can actually create modern software get a chance like this.

Shift up, Ballmer: Microsoft expands board, makes room for activist investor


Well, that's the way it works.

> if you start listening to the money men then your product strategy just turns from selling products people like into products people are locked into

Creating cash generally trumps creating value. And those who can do the first without bothering with the second are rewarded a hundred fold.

Get lost, fanbois: Nokia pulls HERE Maps from Apple's App Store


It's not a conspiracy

Nokia wants (and needs) the biggest market share they can get for HERE regardless of platform allegiance. And of course they are grumpy about pulling HERE from the largest mobile market, especially when Apple's own maps issue is a rare gift for alternative providers. They will invest whatever is required to fix whatever the problems are and re-publish as soon as they can.

All mobile platforms have their annoyances (we seem to have them all in my house). Simply criticizing others for having a platform preference, which seems to be the purpose behind many of these comments, is even more annoying, though. Sure, Apple doesn't have (quite) the allure or the power they once commanded, which is not a criticism. It's a natural evolution of any market for challengers to gain ground, regardless of their velocity or success. Who would want it any other way?

Proposed California law demands anti-theft 'kill switch' in all smartphones


So now the thief has to disable me

...at least long enough to preserve the resale value of my phone until it's fenced?

Grace Hopper gave us COBOL, 'debugging' and inspiration. So Google gave her a Doodle


Admiral Hopper on the David Letterman program

This was a nice diversion today, at least for me...


MS Word deserves DEATH says Brit SciFi author Charles Stross


Douglas Adams'...

...similar thoughts, but far less bitterness in 1987:

"Something wrong, sir?" he said. "Oh, nothing," I said gloomily. "It's just the new version of Microsoft Word."


PS. Maybe someone has a better, more official link?

Boffins have constructed a new LIGHT SABRE. Their skills are complete


Very disappointed there's no picture

But with gleeful pitch copy like "It's not an inapt analogy to compare this to light sabers," young Lukin has a future in rubidium marketing.

There she blows! Mid-October release date for Windows 8.1 sighted


Re: If they haven't removed anything it's a service patch...

But they have removed things (at least in the preview edition) -- like supporting Facebook/Flickr sources in the Photo app.


Very annoying.

Snowden's secure email provider Lavabit shuts down under gag order


Re: ECC Patents

I did a little (better) looking around, and I see your point. I thought the SECG patent policy made the situation seemed pretty knotted up. But that's an effort to create standards, which has it's own IP headaches. Wikipedia made it seem like people were waiting for patents to expire to avoid having to weed through them. Sorry for adding any confusion and thanks for clarifying.


ECC Patents

Maybe another reason, besides the obvious and abject dysfunction, Congress won't ban software patents? Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) is very much patent encumbered by, um, the NSA.

New NSA tool exposed: XKeyscore sees 'nearly EVERYTHING you do online'


Re: Wake up call

True, except they will then summarily capture and store your encrypted stream *forever*, regardless of your (not sure how to put this) "FISA standing" (51% chance you are foreign, etc.). Since they can't read your content in the moment, there's no privacy violation per se in collecting your data.

I'll bet a separate FISA rubber stamp lets them proactively analyze your encryption method and partially decrypt your data if possible -- just so they can be ready to do it quickly when, well, "warranted".

Microsoft biz heads slash makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS


"Demonic Zeal?

Um, I actually think they've done their homework and looked at their reasonably credible experience with the cloud. In beginning, each MSFT product team was independently trying to be a cloud hero and doing crazy things (like forking the SQL Server code line). Getting to the cloud was a scorecard goal, which of course made doing the right thing much less important. It doesn't take a genius to know that all these services need to line up and sensibly share vision and execution with respect to privacy, security (NSA issues aside), billing, and marketing.

The real jeopardy will come from pushing customers into licensing schemes they don't want or don't understand. The nice thing about a subscription is that you can elect not to renew if something more attractive comes along. It's sometimes even cost effective to abandon an agreement in mid-term. The crap thing about subscriptions is that, for many things, we'll end up sending more money to Microsoft than ever before.

I don't like the article claiming demonic zeal. If anything, that resembles the criticisms of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, or even Bill Gates. We vilify them while quietly following their lead.

Jobs' 'incredibly stupid' prattlings prove ebook price-fix plot, claim Feds


Re: Jobsian Apple, the most disgusting, anti-consumer corporation of the world...

All that said, I really still like my iPod. It's an old one that only plays songs and podcasts. It bugs me that I can only replace it with a more expensive and less suitable device. There was a time when that wasn't Apple's intent. And that's why the world's gone past them.

Obama's patent troll proposals: Long on talk, short on walk


A truly good start would be

...to ban software patents.

Live Blog: Google I/O keynote


Take the long view...

> 12:12pm . . . "Take the long view and then figure out how to make money."

Easy to do when you have billions the bank on day one. I'd ask Twitter how that approach has worked for them.

Microsoft honcho pleads with media: 'Stop picking on us!'


Microsoft own evangelists...

...will enthusiastically, (and rightfully, IMO) show you Win 8 does a good job on a slate or mob, yet in the same breath throw the desktop edition squarely under the bus. Even in a room full of faithful partners like me, they didn't even try to sell the desktop story. I think the exact words were "leaving usability on a non-touch device aside, ...".

TSA to pull backscatter perv scanners from US airports


It's the Health Issue

>Privacy hasn't been the only concern over backscatter scanners. In December, the TSA reluctantly agreed to

> conduct a new investigation into whether the technology might pose any health risks.

Exactly. These machine were deployed during a panicked reaction, their safety was never fully understood, and since that time have been slowly withdrawn starting with the busiest (or well-connected) airports.



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