* Posts by Malcolm Weir

948 publicly visible posts • joined 23 May 2007


In a stand against authoritarianism, Montana bans TikTok downloads

Malcolm Weir

When does the lawsuit happen...?

Reading the comments from the companies and industry groups, I'm going to opine that they don't plan to sue for declaratory judgment, as it's more useful to have a bogeyman law on the books where it doesn't matter -- the whole population of Montana is about the same as that of the Rochester, NY metro area! If Montana actually does anything, I'd expect the victims of that government action to get significant resources to defend themselves, and kill the ludicrous and obviously unconstitutional bill that way.

By contrast, if Congress did the same thing, I'd expect an instant application for an injunction!

Of course, the whole point of this law is a combination of virtue signaling and pushback against marketing from TikTok, i.e. to create a larger fuzzy boundary disfavoring certain types or vehicles of speech.

(There is, of course, a possibility that Apple/Google/California might sue Montana for demanding they limit access to an app, but again I suspect that will wait until Montana tries to do anything about it... the people in Montana that would have to initiate proceedings against Apple/Google are almost certainly less partisan and/or raving loony, so may decline to prosecute the unprosecutable).

Ashlee Vance spills the beans on the secret exciting life of space startups

Malcolm Weir

Re: Blue Origin

Space tourism, as defined as a moon lander...

Malcolm Weir

Re: Blue Origin

Today's news:

Blue Origin just got a contract to build NASA a moon lander. Yeah, at only $3.4B it's not the largest, but I think claiming Blue Origin isn't a significant player is a little off-base.

Malcolm Weir

Re: Blue Origin

Well, except those whole pesky BE-4 things...

Anyway, not sure one can accurately claim that "the orbital launcher is stalled" when:

1) There was an incident last year (Sep 19, 2022, flight NS-23) which grounded that project for investigation (as it should). So is SpaceX "stalled", because Starship/Extra-Bangy-Booster is grounded for investigation, too...

2) NASA handed Blue Origin a New Glenn launch for a Mars launch in 2024 (-ish, obviously), and they did this in February of this year (Feb 10, to be exact).

Blue Origin is generally very, very quiet about most of what they do, unlike the Chief Twit's outfit, but that doesn't mean they aren't doing things!

Malcolm Weir

One player that seems to be a bit of a dark horse in the business is Blue Origin. Because they aren't specifically targeting commercial satellite work, their efforts are either under-reported or pooh-poohed -- the Shatner/Bezos edge-of-space thing being an example; much was made of the "didn't really get to space" aspect, and significantly less on the "safely launched and recovered a 90 year 6 month old dude while not destroying large parts of Texas" thing. And that wasn't a fluke, either: Shatner at 90.5 beat the record set by Wally Funk at 82, also on a New Shepard, who in turn beat John Glenn at age 77, on a Shuttle (and a Mercury, but he wasn't 77 at the time!).

Which is a nice segue to note that it will be interesting to see New Glenn fly, theoretically late next year... oddly enough, at roughly the same time as our return to the moon (on SLS/Artemis II, and not landing).

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch flown to US for HPE fraud trial

Malcolm Weir

Re: "On April 21, the High Court refused Dr Lynch's permission to appeal his extradition"

Nope. That's not how the world works!

The case against Lynch is not proven, and won't be until his trial.

But there is _pretty solid evidence_ that Lynch was _possibly engaged_ in fraud, which is why it is appropriate for him to stand trial.

Unlike the UK, the USA has formal procedures to determine if there is enough evidence to support the charges (in the UK, the CPS just decides behind closed doors, which is fine until we ask ourselves why a particular prominent figure didn't get prosecuted...).

Lynch's case was put to a Grand Jury of citizens, which voted to indict, for the reasons that seemed to confuse you.

He will now stand trial, and given the similarity of his case with the case against one of his sidekicks, I'm going to predict he'll be convicted. But until then, he's indicted, and the only way out for him is to stand trial. This is how justice systems work; this is why we have courts.

Malcolm Weir

Re: "On April 21, the High Court refused Dr Lynch's permission to appeal his extradition"

Ah, you're presuming (I think incorrectly) that there was only one offense, one cause of action, and one jurisdiction.

Obviously, a criminal case is unrelated to a civil case based on the same acts. So your position seems to be that the damage _only_ took place in the UK, because the civil case concluded that damage _did_ occur in the UK. The UK civil case in no way considered whether additional or separate damage _also_ occurred in the USA, because if HP can be made whole by the case in the UK, why bother (there's no justification for a civil suit to make more-than-whole, and proving damage is a game of arm-waving at the best of times).

I would agree that, had the SFO prosecuted (and, say, lost) then the extradition would have been problematic. But they didn't, so it isn't!


Malcolm Weir

Re: Interesting...

I'll bet the accused is happy to pay for the security and surveillance, although the US taxpayer would be happy to pay for the same thing... difference is that Lynch can stay at a nice apartment in San Francisco with Doordash/Uber Eats/friends bring him great food, or he can stay at (probably) a convenient 160 miles from the court, which of course adds 5 hours travel time for his attorneys every time they meet...

Had he not fought extradition so hard, though, it's likely that he could have got slightly less onerous bail conditions (e.g. no armed guards!!!)

Malcolm Weir

Re: "On April 21, the High Court refused Dr Lynch's permission to appeal his extradition"


I don't believe you're correct as to the regulation point: a US company relied on representations by a UK company which were fraudulent. Yes, the issue of fraudulent company accounts is a purely UK issue with respect to UK company laws, but this isn't an issue of "did Autonomy break UK regulations by filing faked accounts?" but rather "did Autonomy con HP into paying too much money for the company by generating a fake set of books?"

HP, of course, is well aware of UK accounting regulations and policies, having UK subsidiaries (a quick search indicates about 4 HPE ones, and 26 HP ones). So it is entirely reasonable to conclude that, although faking the audit would be a criminal matter _in the UK only_, using the faked audit to fraudulently close a deal with a US one is very much a US issue and one in which HP might legitimately conclude that the audited UK accounts were reliable.

I certainly agree that there are issues as to why Lynch didn't get prosecuted in the UK, but there is more than one crime at issue here. If the US was trying Lynch for cooking the books, I would agree that that would inappropriate... but he isn't. He is being prosecuted for a crime that, effectively, took place in Palo Alto, CA: the representations made by Lynch to HP in order to personally pocket a lot of cash.

However, on a technical point, hearsay is NOT generally admissible in a US court. Or rather, "out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of whatever it asserts, which is then offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter" (i.e. hearsay) isn't, although there are exceptions (death-bed declarations and so on). Of course, there are (minor) differences in the Federal Rules of Evidence with regards to criminal vs civil trials, and the issue of immunity from prosecution, and that's why in the USA civil trials will typically be stayed pending the resolution of the criminal case.

There's a press release here https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/michael-richard-lynch-former-ceo-autonomy-corporation-makes-appearance-federal-court that describes the outline of the case against him. You'll see it just asserts that Lynch cooked the books to show a higher value and prospects than were supportable, but does not go into detail as to how the cooking occurred!

Malcolm Weir

Re: "On April 21, the High Court refused Dr Lynch's permission to appeal his extradition"

Nope. That's not how audits work.

If an auditor says "show me the such-and-such file" and gets handed a work of fiction, that is the audited faking the audit.

Yes, the auditor _should_ catch the fiction/fakery, but there is a difference between failing to catch a fraud and creating fraudulent documentation to pass an audit.

The issue with Autonomy, and why Deloitte got fined, is that Autonomy faked their paper trail and Deloitte didn't catch it when they should have done. So fraud and negligence, respectively.

Malcolm Weir

Re: "On April 21, the High Court refused Dr Lynch's permission to appeal his extradition"

This seems a little "little England"! From what we know from earlier Autonomy legal adventures:

1) Autonomy faked their audit, and Deloitte got fined £15M by the (UK's) Financial Reporting Council for not catching it.

2) Autonomy's CFO was tried and convicted of fraud, and had his sentence upheld on appeal. Yes, this was in the US, but the record in that case is pretty solid evidence that Lynch was possibly engaged in fraud against a California company (called HP).

3) The UK's High Court determined (in a civil suit) that Lynch fraudulently cooked the books so HP would give him lots of money! Fraud is a criminal matter (too), so Lynch should face criminal charges somewhere, and the UK's SFO decided not to pursue them, while the US has large chunks of the necessary prosecution record from the CFO's trial and appeal..

There are plenty of highly-questionable extradition cases. This does not seem to be one, and has only dragged out this long because of Lynch's cash.

The first real robot war is coming: Machine versus lawyer

Malcolm Weir

Re: I tried ChatGPT for an engineering question

To be slightly more accurate: ChatGPT was quick to provide you with things that looked like answers. It wasn't interested in answering the question, rather it was setup to give you something that reads like it answers the question.

In a very close parallel, I was working with a colleague to identify a replacement CPU. They created a great spreadsheet that listed all the features of a number of candidates, but omitted anything about power dissipating (mostly because this isn't usually provided by the manufacturers). But that's our gating requirement: we cannot produce more than X watts because the cooling system can't handle it. ChatGPT is like that colleague: not understanding that there are some immovable objects!

ESA's Jupiter-bound Juice spacecraft has a sticky problem with its radar

Malcolm Weir

Re: I often wonder...

I can't imagine anyone jumping on the idea that interplanetary boost is a good idea! If you have additional mass available because your launch vehicle is bigger, the payload people will seize it all with great cries of joy!

Tesla wins key court battle over Autopilot crash blame

Malcolm Weir

Looking at this situation... the plaintiff was in stop-and-go traffic, the car veered into a center divider at a speed of "about 25mph". Plaintiff claims she had her hands on the wheel, but also had time to throw her arms up to shield her face (which, incidentally, is not a great plan in a car with airbags, and it results in you punching yourself in the face at high speed!).

Now, 25mph isn't terribly slow, but if you have time to throw your hands up, it seems to me that you probably have time to do other things, too... like mash your foot on the brake?

Ex-CIO must pay £81k over Total Shambles Bank migration

Malcolm Weir

Very true... but I'd observe that we don't know what the executive's employment contract looked like, and it's totally possible that he has a contract whereby he's indemnified against this fine, so the penalty to him is actually nil in real terms (although it won't help his employment prospects, so there's that!)

Theranos founder Holmes ordered to jail after appeal snub

Malcolm Weir

Re: Still not serving porridge?

That "time a-plenty" didn't come cheap, though. Lawyers filing plausible (but ultimately denied) motions will get anyone a delay before going to jail... the problem is that the public defender isn't going to waste time on delaying tactics when they could be working for people who might actually be innocent! So unless you're paying for lawyers, and those lawyers are impressive (and therefore more plausible, and more expensive), you don't get to benefit.

(Also there's a big difference between Fed and State... and if the defendant happens to be pregnant, it's often cheaper to let her remain outside until the birth than to take responsibility for healthcare).

Malcolm Weir

Kinda by default he's going to get effective sole custody until December 2032...

After less than half a year, Intel quietly kills RISC-V dev environment

Malcolm Weir

Re: Intel & RISC-V

Worth remembering that Intel has many divisions and foci! It may be that Pathfinder was envisaged as a "group wide" entity, which has become a luxury they cannot afford, and so the RISC-V expertise has now devolved back to the individual divisions (e.g. the FPGA group f/k/a Altera, the not-wholly-owned SiFive, and so on).

Malcolm Weir

Re: And meanwhile

Absolutely not. A reasonably close parallel in the ARM ecosystem is that the Cortex-M0 used as a programmable engine in a lot of low-end microcontrollers (and some higher end devices like PCIe switches) is not very closely related (on silicon) to the ARMv8.2 CPUs used in the data center products (and the Pi 4).

All the CPU "type" tells you is that it runs a particular instruction set, much like the original "P5" Pentium of 30 years ago runs the same base instructions as the latest 13th-generation Core i9! So being a RISC-V CPU doesn't tell you much about the capabilities of the processor, just how software written for it is compiled. Details like memory accessing, optional extensions (like float point or vector operations) bus architectures and so on can, and indeed will, be very very different.

So the low-leg-count RISC-V processors that you can (apparently) buy for $0.10 are only faintly related to things like the SiFive P670 engine. But code compiled for the former will run on the latter (although it probably won't do anything very useful, as the former will have totally different embedded peripherals than the latter, which will do I/O by talking PCI Express, etc...)

British monarchy goes after Twitter, alleges rent not paid for UK base

Malcolm Weir

The situation in Singapore (where the landlord insists Twitter is still a tenant) is precisely how these sorts of things go: because the tenant is still a tenant, even though they haven't paid the rent for e.g. November and December, they still owe rent for this month and the landlord really would like them to owe rent for every month until Twitter gets a court to dissolve the tenancy!

There was a shopfront on a desirable street in San Francisco that was vacant for more than 20 years because the original owner of the building had died, and the relative that had run the business was stuck with a lease from the estate, so there was a ever-increasing flow of debt from the business to the estate of the owner, leading to oceans of red ink on paper, and an "encumbered asset" that was appreciating like crazy. Because "the business" and the owner's estate were fundamentally the same people, many taxes were dodged without anyone having to actually run a shop!

Twitter stiffed us on $2m bill, claim consultants in lawsuit

Malcolm Weir

Re: Twitter Dead Pool

There's a 4.5: regulatory authorities in Washington and Dublin (and likely Sacramento and many other places) shut them down for failure to do all the things they agreed to do, and for doing all the things they agreed not to do.

Malcolm Weir

Re: If Bannon and Trump can do it... So can Musk

The snag about a Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it will hit the current owner hardest, so the ownership would functionally pass from Musk to those who lent him the money. There were about $13bn in loans to Twitter (not Musk) which, alongside the landlords, former employees, government entities levying fines etc. would be seen as creditors. Since the value of the biz is likely roughly a quarter of what Musk paid, the lenders would end up owning the company and Musk would... not.

EU plan to make big tech pay 'fair share' of telco fees reportedly weeks away

Malcolm Weir

Just like the ideas for tax on recording media...

Techdirt went a bit, err, vigorous over this: https://www.techdirt.com/2023/01/05/big-telecoms-quest-to-tax-big-tech-for-no-reason-will-cause-massive-internet-instability-group-warns/

The "fair share" language is pure gibberish: SOMEONE provides Netflix / Google / Amazon / Etc with connectivity to the network that eventually gets to the consumer. That someone charges for the connectivity, as does the provider of the service to the consumer. But the Telco's (who have not exactly covered themselves with glory on the whole "provide service to the consumer" front) want to reach around the infrastructure providers and get cash directly from the big names.

The normal "market forces" way this should work is for the backbone providers to raise their rates to allow for their infrastructure improvements. If priced according to actual utilization (as opposed to link speed), then the content providers would pay more and the ISPs that provide service to the consumers would pay more, so they'd likely charge more. But what's happening here is an attempt by the telco's to bypass the backbone provider and collect taxes directly from the content producers. In short, the telco's want to collect money from organizations that they don't do business with, in order to avoid the perception that they're charging their customer (with whom they do business) to do whatever it is that they should have been doing for decades!

An IT emergency during a festive visit to the in-laws? So sorry, everyone, I need to step out for a while

Malcolm Weir

Re: What's the problem?

I would very gently point out that there are many families who don't put up trees or buy gifts... often because of a faith mismatch!

This message brought to you by the War on the War on Christmas...

Southwest Airlines blames IT breakdown for stranding holiday travelers

Malcolm Weir

Re: Time for IT from this century

On the three ring circus: exactly. aircraft have to be positioned for routine (and eventually major) maintenance, and for whatever reasons cabin and cockpit crew tend to be rostered individually rather than as a unit (Southwest operates some aircraft with less than 150 seats = 3 cabin crew, and some with more than that = 4, and I suppose the pilots take PTO and training individually, so any long-term effort to keep them together for more than a few flights will fail).

Malcolm Weir

Re: Some FAA flexibility ?

On your second point, airline crew have incredible flexibility on where they live versus where their work base is. But that's a personal choice, so if you "spend 24+ hours travelling", that's on you.

The job requires that you show up rested. If you can't do that, then perhaps you ought to move house?

Malcolm Weir

Re: Some FAA flexibility ?

On Tenerife, no, or at least not anything like directly.

The issue with the KLM pilots' duty time restrictions had nothing to do with the flight that they were operating, but with the _next_ flight!

KL4805 was operating AMS-LPA but got diverted to TNF because LPA was closed. Once LPA re-opened, they had to fly TNF-LPA to get there, offload the passengers, pick up new ones and head home LPA-AMS. The "risk" was that the crew might be out of hours for the LPA-AMS flight, which is why the captain refueled in TNF, which delayed them and blocked the Pan Am aircraft from departing. The Clipper crew had just flown in from JFK, and were quite cranky that the KLM aircraft was blocking them in and preventing them from getting to their beds, but as they did nothing wrong, that has no bearing on the events that followed.

The key problem was that the Dutch captain "believed he sat on the right seat to God" (as a Dutch pilot described it). So rather than let the company dispatchers figure it out, he decided to refuel in TNF, even though he had plenty to get to LPA, and he tried to do the job of dispatch. What he had been told was that as long as he could leave LPA by 19:00, they'd be fine, but to call from LPA for the official word on that. The accident occurred at 17:05, so you can see the "urgency" isn't what you suggest!

Had Capt van Zanten opted NOT to refuel in TNF, both the Clipper and his aircraft would have been moving nearly an hour earlier, the Clipper crew would have been an hour less cranky and may have challenged the ATC instructions ("take the third on left", which would have been a very difficult hairpin), the weather would have been better, etc.

But ultimately the accident happened because van Zanten didn't follow the rules... he began his takeoff without clearance.

Malcolm Weir

Re: Outdated scheduling software?

And when you had a solid, shared corporate culture, crisis management works better. But under the old Southwest culture, the station managers and CEOs would have rolled up their sleeves and loaded bags / answered phones / etc...

Malcolm Weir

Re: Some FAA flexibility ?

No, there is zero scope for flexibility in bad weather. Bad weather is why the rules are written the way they are. Air Florida Flight 90 and Tenerife are the poster children for this: if the weather had been good, nothing would have gone seriously wrong... it wasn't, so over 650 people died!

There are, of course, options that Southwest doesn't use because it costs money. The obvious one is operating empty flights (with only crew members on board). These would only require the pilots flying the aircraft to be "current", but the FA's and off-duty pilots in the back can be fast asleep for all the FAA cares. While drastic, this would allow the schedulers to start from a much cleaner sheet, and would clear up the mess much faster. (To be fair, it seems that the magnitude of the mess was not immediately obvious, so the time for such drastic measures might have already passed).

Malcolm Weir

Re: Very simple explanation...former CEO Gary Kelly

Kinda, but you've overlooked the two mergers in the 2000s: bits of AirTran, and all of AirTran f/k/a ValuJet. Neither of those had had the benefit of Herb's culture-building, so you got an influx of people unused to "the Southwest way", which diluted the perceived value of the upbeat culture.

The critical problem for any airline is that they can't put a price on genuine service, because some other airline will come along and undercut them (hi, Michael O'Leary). And by service, I mean a lot more than bone china for your mixed nuts! Things like seat availability, schedule convenience, minimized lay-over times, flexible ticketing, and so on all count.... but absolutely nothing counts more than how the organization responds when things go wrong.

Which brings me to observe that, no, flying Southwest will NOT be better than flying DL/UA/AA. Sometimes it might be, but as this week's news shows, it can often be much, much worse.

Malcolm Weir

Re: Blame the Computer

Ah, but Southwest doesn't really offer cheap flights. They market their operation as if they do, but with the exception of a few loss-leaders (the $49 fares they'll advertise every so often), the actual prices charged are generally well within the realm of what the other can carriers charge.

There are several "gotchas" to that claim, of course: WN doesn't charge for the first two piece of hold baggage, so that's a savings of $120 on a round-trip compared to DL/UA/AA, but only if you would have paid for checked baggage. And WN also doesn't allocate seats, so if you want something approximating a specific seat choice, you'll probably have to pay for the "Early Bird" auto-check-in option, which adds $30 round-trip. WN loves to operate from "atypical" airports (Love Field in Dallas, Midway in Chicago, etc) which can be a mixed bag: fewer options if things go wrong, typically fewer hotels and rental cars, but often easier to access (at least by car).

Southwest is not an operation like Ryanair (they don't actively loathe their customers), but a lot of their low-cost-model comes from operating a point-to-point network, which often avoids having to route passengers in the wrong direction. And a lot of their current fragility comes from the same thing...

San Francisco investigates Hotel Twitter, Musk might pack up and leave

Malcolm Weir

Re: No, way, they beat us?

Jou, while you are depressing accurate in many (most?) situations, those are how zoning is mis-applied, and you're ignoring the sensible side of the practice (multi-family / high-density housing near public transit, historic and downtown rebirth, etc).

Bottom line is that it's not "zoning" but "zoners" that are the problem!

Malcolm Weir

Re: No, way, they beat us?

This is typical stupidity. Red states interfere with people with aggression and ignorance. DeKlantis in Florida and his "Don't say Gay" efforts. Efforts to remove books they don't like from libraries. Abbott's law against social media. Healthcare criminalization of women and trans people.

What Lipvig means is that he _likes_ the government to bully the poor and minorities, as long as he and his corrupt cronies can do what they want.

NASA's Orion Moon capsule to splash down this Sunday

Malcolm Weir

Welp, now we know.

It worked.

Two signs in the comms cabinet said 'Do not unplug'. Guess what happened

Malcolm Weir

Re: I was commenting on twitter the other day…

There was a similar-but-different anecdote from back in the Usenet/NSF network days where some bright spark unplugged an unknown Ethernet cable.

Turns out the other end was... New Zealand. As in all of it.

(That's a gross oversimplification, of course -- links to Australia weren't impacted, for example -- but the vast majority of Usenet traffic just stopped...)

Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

Malcolm Weir

Yup. There's a guy in our outfit who can do just that, and who _cannot_ be overruled by anyone, even the CEO[1].

He's the Quality Manager. If he nixes a vendor, they're nixed.

Now, because we're on the same team, if we _need_ that vendor, and can justify the need, he works with us to come up with a compromise, which usually involves a more rigorous inspection procedure, discussions with the vendor as to how and why they're on thin ice, etc. He's not stupid, and won't shut down the business frivolously!

[1] The CEO can fire him and get another quality manager, of course. But our quality certification does not permit anyone to override the quality guy.

Liz Truss ousted as UK prime minister, outlived by online lettuce

Malcolm Weir

Ah, Eisenhower is popular not because of his follicle styling, because of his policies vis-a-vis Europe. He massively increased imports into first France, then the rest of western Europe, and encouraged the free movement of UK and US workers.

FBI: We tracked who was printing secret documents to unmask ex-NSA suspect

Malcolm Weir

Re: Very strange

You'd have thought so, but there's an insidious line of thinking that goes "hey, if you can get into the room, past the randomizing keypad and all that, you must be One Of Us and so no need to mess around with that stuff. And anyway, our BOFH refuses to install that feature because it can fail and that requires support...".

(Strange but true: I had an installation that was, shall we say, behind closed doors, and we had a "four hour on site" service requirement. Passwords needed to expire, and so we couldn't use normal access methods as they'd inevitably expire the password at 2am on a Sunday morning leaving the system dead in the water. So I came up with this approach of having a copy of the root password in a sealed envelope in a closed cabinet in a closed room in a secured area within a guarded base... and any time we ripped the envelope open, we'd notify the IT leads and they could regenerate the whole shooting match, change the password, replace the envelope, etc.

Worked well, but in the five or so years we'd use it -- not just at 2am on Sunday -- the IT folk _never_ changed the password or redid the envelope. The envelope got to be really tatty, too... Oh, well...)

Malcolm Weir

Re: Very strange

That's Distribution Statement A you listed (approved for public release). There are actually 5 ("A" though "E").

But you're wrong to say if a doc doesn't have Distro A on it, you've committed an felony. What matters is whether the doc is actually cleared for public release, not whether the doc says it is. And an affirmative defense is that you believed the doc was approved, even if it wasn't... although trying to flog the thing to people you think are Russians tends to discredit the notion that you believed it to be released!

In particular, this doc https://discover.dtic.mil/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/distribution_statements_and_reasonsSept2018.pdf describes the Statements and how to pick the right one and what to say on it. It does not carry it's own Distro A statement.

Astute readers might see some parallels to newsworthy events in Florida related to a disaster called "Donald", not to be confused with the one called "Ian".

Malcolm Weir

Re: Very strange

That's a "canary trap" and is only occasionally used. What actually happened here is that the printers log all files printed, and someone looked at the logs...

Malcolm Weir

Re: What's the problem?

Ans1: the affidavit states: "DALKE also noted that certain of the information he had access to was due to a misconfiguration in the system that granted him access to information beyond what he should otherwise have." We also don't know what he was supposed to be developing, so the "don't usually" qualifier is pretty meaningless unless one knows what his job description actually was.

Ans2: Because you can't read documents if they're encrypted.

Ans3: looking at the affidavit, it appears the debt was likely ~$90K of student loan + credit card, and the rest is a mortgage. Not insignificant, but possibly the value of the property on which he had a mortgage outweighed the amount of unsecured debt (and for a number of folks, student loans are a "cheap" debt, so get prioritized lower than credit card, etc).

California Governor signs child privacy law requiring online age checks

Malcolm Weir

Re: Only question, who paid Wicks and why..

This is the product of a British nutcase, Beeban Tania Kidron, Baroness Kidron, OBE.

According to Wikipedia:


Kidron is the Founder and Chair of 5Rights Foundation, an organisation she established in 2013 to promote the rights of children online. At the launch she described it as a civil society initiative that aims to make the digital world a more transparent and empowering place for children and young people. 5Rights signatories include Unicef, the NSPCC and Barclays bank. Starting out as the iRights campaign, in 2018 it was formally registered as a charity formally constituted as The 5Rights Foundation.

5 Rights Foundation states that its mission is to build the digital world children and young people deserve. It develops policy, regulation and innovative approaches to digital issues on behalf of children and young people, working with an interdisciplinary network of experts. 5Rights has pioneered a range of international policies and programmes, such as; developing Child Online Protection Policy for the Government of Rwanda;[30] contributing to the creation of a General Comment (codicil) on the digital world, to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); and working in partnership with IEEE Standards to create Universal Standards for Children and for Digital Services and Products.


So there you have it: it's for the chilluns, and if you disagree with their Good Works, you're probably a pedophile and should turn yoursself in to the police immediately.

Conspicuous by its absence in the bill Gav signed is anything to protect people who aren't chilluns.

US border cops harvest info from citizens' phones, build massive database

Malcolm Weir


It's not just GPDR, but any domestic laws (treating the EU as a single entity for considering whether it's domestic!).

If it were not so, any country could pass a law saying it's illegal to speak with a funny accent, or be rude about the French, or whatever and expect to have the USA (or indeed any other country) respect and probably enforce their weirdo laws.

Bottom line: GPDR only has bearing when you have "long-arm" situations involving individuals located within the EU: Google storing stuff in the USA from activities inside the EU, and so on... but not Google storing stuff about EU citizens within the US, as there's no nexus with EU territory.

Facebook hands over chats to cops in post-Roe abortion case

Malcolm Weir

The leaked opinion (not a ruling) had absolutely no force of law, so is irrelevant. And anyway, had that been a factor, why didn't the Nebraska cops just wait until the decision of the court was handed down on June 24th? We now know that the most likely reason for the leak was to try to force Robert's hand: he was apparently trying to get Gorsuch on board with a simple response to the actual matter at hand in Dobbs, thereby avoiding the wholesale nonsense that Alioto's opinion has created (i.e. the elimination of stare decisis). It succeeded, but it wasn't certain that it would... and indeed the draft differs from the ruling in a few areas, one of which has to do with Robert's Concurrence.

Second, the issue is not whether or not the data in Meta (et al's) control belongs to them or to you, but that they have it. You seem to have mixed up situations where companies provide data voluntarily and those where they respond to a subpoena (specifically, a Subpoena Duces Tecum) for the production of evidence in their control, regardless of who owns it. There are a few valid ways to object to such subpoenas (e.g. because the evidence is covered by some form of privilege), but in general ownership of the data is irrelevant and it must be handed over. This is the underlying reason why end-to-end encryption is necessary but not sufficient: the encryption keys must also stored somewhere safe.

Lastly, I'm glad you're so optimistic that no-one will get prosecuted for travelling out of state for a procedure prohibited in that state. I am far less sanguine, in no small part because prosecution is not the same as conviction: even if the prosecution was unsuccessful, the goal of groups like the NRLC is satisfied by the creation of fear of the consequences, rather than the consequences themselves. For example, the South Carolina prohibition against publishing information that someone could use to get an abortion is on its face a violation of the First Amendment, but do you really want to be the guinea pig that proves that?

And that's without the issue of things like the Texas SB8 Private Right of Action, which doesn't care about where the procedure occurs, as long as the defendant and plaintiff in a lawsuit under that Right of Action are both located within Texas; if there's diversity, the case gets yanked to Federal Court, which is less likely to enforce Texas state law!

Malcolm Weir

Bloody hell, this has literally nothing to do with a "post Roe abortion case"!

Dobbs, that overturned Roe, was decided on June 24th 2022. Because of linear time, a subpoena dated June 7th 2022 can't be a result of the Dobbs decision.

And the Nebraska law that this is and was in play here criminalized abortion after 20 weeks, which is somewhere between Sweden's limit (18 weeks) and the UK's (24 weeks, the same as the Netherlands).

Now, the circumstances were inevitably tragic for the people involved, but this would, I suggest, be an appropriate set of facts for an investigation to happen, although I'd hope that a lot more discretion about whether or not to bring charges would be applied than is likely to be the case in Nebraska. But given that an investigation seems warranted (again, an investigation but not necessarily a prosecution), a subpoena to Meta would seem to be a reasonable thing to do.

Of course, the legitimate concern here is that this is a harbinger of cases where one state (let's call it Xetas) prosecutes someone for an entirely legal procedure in another state (say, Olocardo) and forces tech companies to provide evidence. And the moral of that concern is to use a lot of discretion when talking about such things, as you need a channel that does not automatically record all your traffic!

Why the end of Optane is bad news for all IT

Malcolm Weir

"It is not some sort of faster SSD. That is like taking a jumbo jet and using it as a funny-shaped warehouse, and never flying the thing."

No, it is _also_ for some sort of faster SSD. It's like taking a jumbo jet and replacing it with a small pointy thing that could fly from New York to London in 2h52m59s... YOU may not be able to justify the cost/benefit analysis, but I can!

Malcolm Weir

Funny thing: throughout these discussions, the word "Optane" is being used as "non-volatile main memory".

However, my use of Optane has been for stonkingly fast SSDs _with two orders of magnitude better endurance_.

Stick my hot data on Optane SSDs, my warmish stuff on flash SSDs and/or HDDs, and my cool stuff on... something. Tape? AWS buckets? Don't really care by this stage... as long as I know how to get to it!

Malcolm Weir

Re: Amazing... But also a bit stupid

Fascinating discussion, Liam!

However... I submit you've missed two critical points:

A huge proportion of contemporary data is not stored in files or filesystems.... it's stored in tables. Databases have replaced the concept of files/filesystems with entities that have multiple associations (i.e. relations). While there is digital data that is well-served by the concept of a file (e.g. movies), there is much much more (by quantity, if not volume) that is better served by a database. To borrow your observation about Unix: everything is a file in Unix but the method to pull data out of the file is undefined... by contrast, the Windows Registry is an entity with a method to access data, but the fact that it's stored in a file on a filesystem is entirely transparent, and could easily be implemented using large NV system memory.

The second point involves scaling and distribution. The 1:1 mapping between a CPU and a storage device (which hasn't actually been 1:1 for decades, but we still think of it like that and it's usually "a small number of CPUs per storage device") is fine for limited applications where you can contain your whole application in a single box (as it were), but as soon as you get to global datacenters of the AWS/Google/Azure scale, you immediately see the benefit of processing nodes vs storage nodes. And since any given processing node may never previously have encountered the dataset stored on any given storage node, some kind of indexing and data management is necessary. Granted, the paradigm used might be, say, "table of contents" and "storage chunk" versus "directory" and "file", but the hierarchy and access methods are effectively equivalent regardless of terminology.

There's also the "640K" problem: however much storage you think you need is less than the amount of storage that you could use if you had it! The abstraction of "hot data" / "warm data" (main memory/files) is extended by "cold data" (offline storage), and while it's trendy to pretend that offline storage is old fashioned, El Reg is full of accounts of what happens when you don't have it!

Finally, a small observation: you claim modern computers don't have removable storage any more. This is blatantly false: USB storage sticks are very much alive and annoying sysadmins every day!

Linux may soon lose support for the DECnet protocol

Malcolm Weir

Dual IP stacks do exist...

"No such thing in IP land between IPv4 and IPv6."

Well, except for dual-stack systems. The PC I'm writing this on seamlessly lets me interact with forums.theregister.com over IPv4 [] and www.google.com over IPv6 [2607:f8b0:400f:803::2004], so the evidence is quite strong that there is such a thing in IP land...

The point (as you illustrate when enthusing about OSI in general) is that TCP and UDP don't care whether you use IPv4 or IPv6, which is how it should be.

GitLab plans to delete dormant projects in free accounts

Malcolm Weir

Re: A year seems a bit too low... Three years maybe?

I completely agree with Philip's core point, but for me a better approach would be to create a new "dormant" state, where the only options are to download the whole thing (possibly not instantaneously; perhaps you get a tarball of the repository within 24 hours or so)_or_ transfer it to a paid account!

Have projects become dormant after 12 months, and then purge them after another year or two.