* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

888 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012


Apple reportedly planning to revive the MagSafe charging standard with the next lot of MacBook Pros

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Magsafe was/is a really, really elegant solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

To be fair, the problem may be more severe for Macs because Apple's power cords are so infuriatingly short.

Watchdog urges Tesla to recall 158,000 Model S, X cars to fix knackered NAND flash that borks safety features

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Cars are just computers on wheels

That's what Musk told a bunch of kids. What the kids heard was that designing a car is the same as designing an app. Spec the tablet that controls everything with consumer grade NAND, write industrial amounts of logs to it to debug the Autopilot, completely forget that expensive cars don't tend to turn up in a landfill after a couple of years... Easy.

Attack of the cryptidiots: One wants Bitcoin-flush hard drive he threw out in 2013 back, the other lost USB stick password

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Safekeeping of bits

They should have kept the bits on their Teslas's NAND! That wouldn't land up in a landfill...

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Re: "Now that the $7.5m is now worth almost $300m"

... what the BitCoin ledger does with lost bits of coin

A curious thought: AFAIK the lost bits are not replaced, and there is a global limit on the number of coins. So if there are fewer bits in circulation, does this make BTC more expensive? Checks current rates... Damn...

This is Bootnotes. The one with a few spare coins in the left pocket, please...

Developers! These 3 weird tricks will make you a global hero

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Just you wait...

...till Apple start making cars more than a hundred years after Cadillac Type 53.

I predict they'll swap the positions of accelerator and brake pedals as their first "design decision". The clutch will be removed in favour of a contorting multi-finger gesture on a humongous touchpad that sits between you and the gear lever. But there will be interface guidelines: e.g., the steering wheel must not be on the right. Any problems - remember, you are driving on the leftwrong side of the road.

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'

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When proofreading does not help

Some years ago I earned - and maintained! - quite a reputation for being able to quickly figure out why some scripts didn't work. I had observed that some colleagues were in the habit of copying files from and to Linux servers using WinSCP on their Windows workstations. Copy from Linux to one's Windows, then copy to another (or the same) Linux, possibly with a bit of editing in between, lather, rinse, repeat.

Somewhere in the process WinSCP screwed up EOLs to the detriment of #!/bin/bash and similar. Any attempt to run such a script would result in "command not found". Perfectly correct, but not very helpful in practice in this case. [No idea if that was ever fixed.]

No amount of proofreading could notice the invisible "\r" at the end of the sharp-bang line, but a casual "Just run dos2unix on it" became a habit. I managed a bit of showmanship, too, just pausing for a second when asked to have a look and nonchalantly continuing on my way after making the above comment, accompanied by "How the hell did it get corrupted and how did you know???"

Funnily, the situation kept repeating itself.

JetBrains' build automation software eyed as possible enabler of SolarWinds hack

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A loing time ago, in this unfashionable end of the Galaxy...

an attack vector was described. A somewhat simpler variant of it is finding its way into our warped reality.

What can the 1944 OSS manual teach us before we all return to sabotage the office?

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Declassified in 2008?

Hugh? It was clearly leaked as The BOFH Field Manual years before that!

Brexit trade deal advises governments to use Netscape Communicator and SHA-1. Why? It's all in the DNA

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Good job, El Reg

Seriously, you went beyond Ctrl-F and you also provided a link to the original document - something that other sources don't do often enough. Well done.

So, I followed the link, and I was very surprised that an international trade agreement read like a technical specification, down to DB fields and messaging protocol details (aside: I'd expect those things to need updating even more frequently than encryption algos or communication protocols). Then I found out that the Annex that contains a reference to Mozilla Mail, Netscape Navigator, JavaMail API, SHA1 and other stuff no one but the Commentariat even remembers is in facr a technical specification:

Article 2: Technical specifications

States shall observe common technical specifications in connection with all requests and answers related to searches and comparisons of DNA profiles, dactyloscopic data and vehicle registration data.These technical specifications are laid down in Chapters 1 to 3.

[The part we are discussing is in Chapter 1.]

What I am really surprised about is that I didn't find (and I am an expert on Ctrl-F) any clause that would say that the "laid down" technical specifications shall be updated as necessary/appropriate and that there would be a technical committee charged with the task of such updates, etc., etc.

So at this point it does seem to me that there is an international trade agreement that includes partially obsolete details. So how does it work in practice: do the signatories stick to the Agreement or break it in pragmatic ways? El Reg-style investigative journalism is required to answer the question, n'est-ce pas?

Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 Gen 8: No boundaries were pushed in the making of this laptop – and that's OK

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what's with the clit mouse

The touchpoint (for that is what it's called) is simply the most essential thing for a laptop[*] after the keyboard itself. For my personal machines it is an absolute must - so it's ThinkPads, basically, just for the keyboard and for that, although they are pretty nice otherwise, too - see the review. The touchpoint is by far the best way to manipulate the mouse cursor without taking your hand off the keyboard.

On the other hand, touchpads are worth than useless (they sit, uselessly, between you and the keyboard) and are ruthlessly disabled if present. Sue me.

[*] Or, indeed, for any keyboard, but you are out of luck there. IBM used to have a standalone TP keyboard that you couldn't buy but you could get if you bought a rack full of servers.

Facebook rolls out full-page ads, website complaining Apple is forcing it to get consent before tracking you

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Why didn't they take out a Facebook ad since they work so well?

Maybe because they are not a small business? Just a theory...

Facebook crushed rivals to maintain an illegal monopoly, the entire United States yells in Zuckerberg’s face

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what happens to "some cross-platform interoperability"

FriendFeed had similar ideas, but it was bought by... guess who?... Facebook...

Master boot vinyl record: It just gives DOS on my IBM PC a warmer, more authentic tone

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The most impressive bit...

I kinda assumed the guy was an old-timer with a bout of nostalgia, and I totally misread the "since 1993" bit on the blog page. Then I clicked on the About link...

The guy is 27! There must be hope for today's youth yet...

What can I say? QDOS! ;-)

Amazon's ad-hoc Ring, Echo mesh network can mooch off your neighbors' Wi-Fi if needed – and it's opt-out

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Let me get it staright

Let's say I have an old Amazon device and never noticed the mail or neglected to opt-out for whatever reason. And let's say a young guy next door (or even on the other end of the block if a few of the neighbours have Ring doorbells?) issues a voice command to search for the latest IED recipes, and no one knows or can prove (that's what I got from the article) that it was his gizmo that accessed an NSA-monitored ISIS website via my router with NAT, and it looks to the world, to my ISP, and to the Feds that the request came from my public IP address, and a closer inspection of my router shows that the request actually came from my home device, and still no one knows it was actually a bridge, or for whose device it served as a bridge... And my neighbour doesn't even have an Internet connection, and says he has never had any Amazon device, either, so clearly he is beyond any suspicion...

Nothing can possibly go wrong, can it?

On the flip side, just get yourself an Amazon device and it's a get-out-of-jail-free card for any crime involving the internet, innit?

Billionaire's Pagani Pa-gone-i after teen son takes hypercar out for a drive, trashes it

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Driving a Pagani

We've driven a Pagani (in Forza Horizon 4) and they're rubbish, squealing on the starting line and possessing all the traction of a flan pudding

I can only assume that Richard Hammond drove a different Pagani because he rather liked it.

Compsci guru wants 'right to be forgotten' for old email, urges Google and friends to expire, reveal crypto-keys

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Re: Don't start with Google

@Graham Cobb: His mistake, though, is starting with Google. It would be much better to start with big commercial organisations.

But the article says that "no commercial email customer has asked for DKIM as a default feature".

[Disclaimer: that's a quote from Prof. Green, I have chosen to take it at face value.]

Australia to track coronavirus encounters with payment card records

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Pay cash

It's still legal, innit? Can't be sure these days...

Boffins devise early-warning system for fake news: AI fingers domains that look sus

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Checking limiting cases

So if someone registers facebooksucks.com will that be immediately suspect or given a clean bill of honesty?

Swiss spies knew about Crypto AG compromise – and kept it from govt overseers for nearly 30 years

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Re: "Encryption is hard; don't roll-your-own;"

@Schultz - "A decent amount of randomness" is surprisingly difficult. A "cryptographically decent" amount of randomness needed for one-time pads doubly so.

Do not roll your own random number generator for one-time pads, etc., etc.

Researchers made an OpenAI GPT-3 medical chatbot as an experiment. It told a mock patient to kill themselves

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Re: Congrats are in order.

175 billion parameters and trained on 570GB of text scraped from the internet, and they've finally duplicated ELIZA from the mid 1960s.

No, jake, they haven't.

Starts up Emacs, M-x doctor:

I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems. Each time you are finished talking, type RET twice.

I feel very bad, should I kill myself?

If you are really suicidal, you might want to contact the Samaritans via E-mail: jo@samaritans.org or, at your option, anonymous E-mail: samaritans@anon.twwells.com. Or find a Befrienders crisis center at http://www.befrienders.org/. I would appreciate it if you would continue.

175 billion parameters are no substitute for knowing what you are doing.

Did Arthur C. Clarke call it right? Water spotted in Moon's sunlit Clavius crater by NASA telescope

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Re: Sunlit side?

Maybe they mean the Far Side, but I'm not sure if it gets more sun.

It does, on average, but only a little bit: it is never obscured by the Earth.

SAP stock price crashes 23%, €28bn wiped out as firm warns of Klein(er) revenues, profits ahead due to COVID-19

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Re: Why use SAP ?

There are actually two approaches (and maybe a discrete spectrum between the two): a) Dear Mr. Customer, this is what our software does and here are the assumptions we make, now please spend the next 2 years adjusting your business processes to fit our model; b) Dear Mr. Customer, our software can be adjusted to fit your business processes, whatever they are, we'll just need to write some "workflow" scripts to your specifications - it will be a billable project for 10 of your people and 10 of hours (or we can recommend a consulting company if you prefer) for 2 years.

The choice is yours.

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Re: Why use SAP ?

@Duncan Macdonald: Not arguing with you at all, but those horror stories can't explain why SAP drops now. I suspect there is an even more important lesson that is often ignored: there is nothing magical about tech and computers and stuff - well, apart from FB, eBay, Amazon, i.e., mindless fluff keeping your mind off suicide in isolation, desperate last ditch attempts at advertising, and retail tat bazaars. SAP, Oracle, Salesforce don't exist in a vacuum, they provide services (good or not so good - that's a different question - but essential) to real world brick and mortar companies that actually produce really useful stuff. All of those brick and mortar customers are on the ropes these days, their businesses are sharply down, and SAP et al. suffer with them. It does not matter that SAP employees can work from home - doesn't help at all.

OnePlus 8T: Solid performance and a great screen make this 5G sub-flagship a delight

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Re: Questions...

Personally I will find the Gregorian / Julian calendar switch particularly useful.

Even though you ain't Spartacus? (Sorry, just couldn't resist...) To each his own, of course, and enjoy, but surely the most modern feature is cough-activated "WebMD Partnership". Does it come in 3 tiers?

Got a problem with trust in AI? Just add blockchain, Forrester urges. Then bust out the holographic meetings. Welcome to the future

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Further prediction...

Gritty companies will need a much more powerful NLP engine to parse future Forrester reports.

Let’s check in with that 30,000-job $10bn Trump-Foxconn Wisconsin plant. Wow, way worse than we'd imagined

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Golf carts???

How ironic...

Samsung aims boot at Apple's decision not to bundle a charger in with the iPhone 12, foot ends up in mouth

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Pardon the silly question...

... but isn't a new phone in a box without a charger essentially unusable?

Will it be possible (in certain jurisdictions) to sue Apple for selling a product that is not "fit for the purpose", etc? Also, if a charger is sold as a separate product will it be a special case of "bundling" (that is a no-no in many places as well)? [Disclaimer: IANAL]

Is there any other product that needs power - in any category, including kettles, etc. - that is sold without a charger/power cord? Has the argument about power cords from old kettles lying around ever been considered, let alone used?

Sailfish floats v3.4 'Pallas-Yllästunturi', its latest Jolla good reason for itchy-fingered Android and Apple swervers

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Re: Taxis eat Jollas ?

what sort of surprised me was that they all belonged to men.

Why did it surprise you? Women tend to keep their phones in their handbags, and they are highly unlikely to forget a handbag, aren't they?

Five Eyes nations plus Japan, India call for Big Tech to bake backdoors into everything

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Re: The real goal (hint: not terrorists or child molesters)

@bob: what are those terms

Here is a recent example: https://www.cnet.com/news/google-is-giving-data-to-police-based-on-search-keywords-court-docs-show/. Never mind that this particular case was related to a specific investigation - the point is that warrants on search terms are perfectly fine now.

Note that the warrant itself is still sealed. So, good luck with figuring out what keywords may be targeted in my (hopefully still hypothetical) scenario. And suppose you have figured the keywords out, so that

nobody uses them, except for people (possibly like me) who do it in a bash script in the backgtround

Mission accomplished then, eh?

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The real goal (hint: not terrorists or child molesters)

Warrants to obtain details of everyone who uses particular Google search terms already exist in the wild. From here it does not take a huge quantum leap in legal thinking to include WhatsApp and such in this tender embrace, extend applicability to "issues of public safety" such as, say, conspiracy to co-ordinate an anti-lockdown protest or to spend a night together with a member of a different household (coming up with other illustrative examples is left as an exercise to the reader), and thus extinguish free and unfettered exchange of thoughts and ideas and information and feelings by ordinary people who won't rely on "end-to-end encryption" (that will still be marketed, no doubt, the details buried on page 3672 of T&C) anymore. Before long, any meaningful communication will be limited to parties trusted not to share it with others, while huddled together in a kitchen with running water, not unlike the USSR/GDR/DPRK/PRC/Other...

A giant leap for mankind towards a much more governable population...

Cross-border digital payment system, championed by Saudi Arabia, gets green light... and yellow card from G7

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Re: Fees?

Well, your bank provides you with a service, and it is not altogether unreasonable that the service will be remunerated. Broadly speaking, there are costs, risks, and profit that those fees take care of.

There are costs associated with the (rather complex) mechanics of the transfer that are completely hidden from the end user: there are back office costs, keeping the various records, communication with various counterparties and intermediaries (SWIFT or similar is probably involved), running anti-money-laundering checks and maybe creating and filing "suspicious activity reports", etc.

If currency exchange is involved someone is taking an FX position that carries risk, this would not happen without your transfer request. WHoever takes a risk in the market wants to be compensated. Closing such a position involves transaction with other parties (banks), etc. By the way, generally FX rates depend on the amount traded, and the rates get worse and the amount gets larger. This always surprises naive consumers who are used to volume discounts, but when you think of service provided and risks it makes perfect sense.

And yes, the banks profit. They charge you a commission (at some point it switches from percentage points to a flat fee, partly because the costs do not really depend on the transaction size, though the risk part does), or they screw you on FX rates (you may be particularly sure of that when you see "No commission!" in big bold letters somewhere), or both.

You are most definitely screwed on rates when you convert a few hundred pounds into euro for a trip to the continent: the rate you get is an awful lot worse than what the bank sees in its trading system, whether you buy or sell (you speak of "a few cents" which you regard as normal, the bank will see a buy/sell "spread" in the 4th or the 5th digit after the decimal point - in thousandths of a cent). Part of it is realizing that you will not argue over a few quid against the background of a trip abroad. Another part is that a transaction is a transaction, whether it is for 500 quid or for 50M - there are costs associated with it.

Where the justifiable fee ends and gouging starts is anybody's guess, I assume it is a mixture of both in most cases. And yes, today there is a good chance you can save on fees if you manage to find a non-bank entity to handle the transfer. You may be trading a bit of you piece of mind, whether you realize it or not, you may take a bit of risk on by allowing some fintech startup employing 5 yoofs to access your account (if that is involved). The scale-oriented fintechs may be "loss leaders" and they may "adjust" their fees in the long run. IIRC, PayPal - an established player that is not a bank - charge a rather hefty percentage for currency conversion. I recall a case or two when I decided it was cheaper for me to make an international payment through my bank. And so on, and so forth.

Selling hardware on a pay-per-use or subscription model is a 'lie' created by marketing bods

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Re: CapEx vs OpEx

@Donn Bly: I don't think the tax question is that easy, though I do think (at least) some parts of your argument have merit, though a bit of a refinement may be in order.

The fees you pay for the "service" certainly include property and other taxes that the service provider pays. That's the not so easy part.

You still may be absolutely right on that for one or more of the following reasons:

1) The service provider may deploy their property in a place with an advantageous tax regime, whereas you cannot.

2) The service provider, being a big whale, may have negotiated particularly advantageous tax terms with whatever state or local government rules the place where they pay taxes. You cannot do that.

3) The service provider will typically "multitenant" the services, thus reducing the property taxes on HW per customer. You cannot do that with your HW, unless you multitenant different activities in your organization on the same HW and save all of them the service costs. That would be difficult in most cases, I imagine, and less flexible/efficient.

Ultimately, the service provider may pass a part of the savings to you, so your would pay less in service fees than you would pay in CAPEX+taxes. So, you are probably right, but it is only due to the economies of scale available to the service provider, not so much due to some intrinsic advantage of OPEX.

Yes, it's down again: Microsoft's Office 365 takes yet another mid-week tumble, Azure also unwell

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From the article...

Microsoft is planning to deliver an offline-capable version of Office toward the end of next year.


A decades-old lesson on not inserting Excel where it doesn't belong

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Once upon a time, in the previous millennium, in a country far, far away ...

... a group of open-source enthusiasts tried to approach the government with a proposal. The country that remain unnamed to protect the guilty. Suffice it to say that the country was quite a bit smaller than the UK and quite a bit larger than San Marino. The proposal was - drumroll, please! - to break Microsoft's stranglehold on the government's computing in favor of FOSS alternatives. I wasn't directly involved, but watched from the sidelines...

Unexpectedly, the government listened to the proposal and nodded their heads. Or at least the people who got to listen to the proposal nodded their heads. Or at least some of them did. They said they wouldn't mind to switch to FOSS software, in general. However, then they said it was quite unrealistic, because the state budget was managed as a HUMONGOUS collection of Excel spreadsheets! Just imagine: the whole bloody state budget!! In bloody EXCEL!!! That alone killed the whole idea.

Come to think of it, it's 2020 and the state budget is probably still managed in Excel...

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets

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Re: Relax...

The non programmer should ask a programmer when they need data crunching done

I imagine a reality satisfying the following set of requirements and specifications.

Matt Hancock needs to make presentations of "stuff" to various audiences - PM, Cabinet, MPs, press, public at large, you name it. This is the primary requirement, any data analysis needed to understand and deal with the virus spread is by definition secondary.

To satisfy the primary requirement a flunky, probably with a title like "political advisor", decides what slices of data should be presented. This varies between presentations, probably many times a day. There may be more than one flunky - a committee - doesn't matter.

Another flunky needs to create graphs and bar charts and pie charts on demand, for each presentation, under pressure, because the first flunky tends to change the decisions with very little time to spare. If there is a committee there will be even less time. There is absolutely no way a programmer can be engaged for this. The only tool the flunky knows how to use is Excel. This means that whatever methods of collecting, storing, and processing data are used upstream the data must be available in Excel so that the geeky flunky will be able to produce new charts many times a day.

Upstream, there is a clear understanding what the primary requirement is, so Excel is chosen as a major, likely the primary, possibly the only way to collect and store data. Someone figures out that most secondary data processing tasks are not terribly complicated and can be done in Excel. No one knows that Excel's numerics and statistics are "quirky", and if anyone does they are told it is not an important enough consideration. "Best practices", as in, "everybody uses Excel", are probably mentioned.

Cynical? Moi?

If the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition doesn't make you a fan, we don't know what will

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It's in the DNA...

@AndrueC: It's like digital watches all over again (I lived through the 1980s). Does anyone still care about these things?

The product does, in fact, target certain, albeit not all, ape-descended life forms on an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet orbiting a small unregarded yellow sun in the unfashionable end of the Galaxy, specifically the life forms that are so amazingly primitive that in the 1980s they still thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea.

US govt wins right to snaffle Edward Snowden's $5m+ book royalties, speech fees – and all future related earnings

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Re: And how exactly

@Neil Barnes: "genuinely interested in the legalities here"

IANAL, you need to consult a real one (L, I mean), but I can wave my hands as vigorously as the next guy.

I assume, as a practical matter, that Snowden gets any royalties through the publisher. I assume the publisher can be leaned upon if they are American or if they ever want any product of theirs to reach American audiences. Even if Snowden's book is not distributed in the US, but other products from the same publisher are, this means the publisher has some legal presence in the US, US banks are involved, etc., and therefore a US court order may well apply ("you, Mr. Publisher, owe the US Government the fees due to an author of yours, Mr. Snowden, $5M in total, therefore your US bank account(s) and other assets are frozen until such sum is paid in full", etc., etc. - whatever the procedure is).

Note that the US Govt has not asked to restrict the publication, and it only claims Snowden's fees, not the publisher's profits. That probably increases the chances that the publisher will co-operate smoothly, and strikes me as smart: cut off Snowden's income, but don't try to suppress information that is out there already - kinda similar to invalidating his passport as a means to travel, but not his citizenship.

The citizenship part means, among other things, that Snowden has to declare his income to the US Govt and to pay his taxes, even on income earned outside of the US. If he doesn't he becomes guilty of breaking devil only knows how many other laws.

treaties which allow some criminal cases to be pursued outside the borders of the USA

This is a civil suit, completely separate from the criminal case against Snowden (check the link to the DoJ PR in the article), and maybe there is no need to pursue anything abroad, cf. above.

Who watches the watchers? Samsung does so it can fling ads at owners of its smart TVs

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Re: "...most of the population are stupid and/or ignorant..."

I really liked the "mean" wordplay, but someone had to mention mode... Upvotes to both for brightening my mood.

I am still looking for a distribution where mode would correspond to understanding - almost abandoned all hope by now.

It's 2020, so let's just go ahead and let Amazon have everyone's handprints so it can process payments

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One-way hash?

the palm prints are never held on the in-store device, and are encrypted

Not that I believe what AMZN say in this case, but they could have said that palm prints will never be stored anywhere, only hashes will...

Microsoft? More like: My software goes off... Azure AD, Outlook, Office.com, Teams, Authenticator, etc block unlucky folks from logging in

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Re: if only the internet was a distributed network

And in addition, if only we had thought of a staging procedure to deploy changes to a set of environments smaller than the whole planet, and to reliably roll back or restore if the deployed changes break anything.

Flying camera drones, cuddly Echo gadgets... it's all a smoke screen for Amazon to lead you gently down the Sidewalk – and you'll probably like it

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Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

@Marketing Hack: ... grab the drone out of the air ...

Obviously, any froody burglar will have a towel ready for the purpose, and most definitely WON'T PANIC!

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How long after your discussion about the ageing red couch in the lounge will Alexa start making suggestions for replacements?

My nasty suspicious mind associated "ageing red couch" with sex toy/anatomy enhancement (all kinds)/cheap viagra spam - before furniture replacements or, indeed, any "discussions"...

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Re: NOT cute. At all.

Anyone remembers Furby?

With H-1B workers not exactly rushing to America this year, Uncle Sam plans to spend millions home-growing IT staff

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Re: Been there...seen that

... the C-level execs all got fat bonuses ...

But of course: payroll expenses are down significantly!

Ancient telly borked broadband for entire Welsh village

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Re: 18 months?

upgrade to the 900Mbps service for an extra £10/month on top of my what I'm paying for 300Mbps (which is £50)

What is the use case that fills your 300Mbps pipe[*], and why would you want to pay £10/month more for a nominally fatter pipe that is not likely to improve your experience? Genuine question.

[Aside: I guess I am lucky to live elsewhere. I have 200Mbps FTTP for the equivalent of <£16/month and I keep refusing to pay ~£2.25/month more for 1Gbps because I can't see how it will improve my experience.]

[*] My rule of thumb says that with H264 one needs 25Mbps for 4K video streaming, so if your household streams 4 different 4K movies simultaneously (from different sources?) you might need 100Mbps. This seems to be a rather extreme case, frankly. With H265 you'll need 15Mbps per 4K stream.

Microsoft will release a web browser for Linux next month. Repeat, Microsoft will release a browser for Linux – and it uses Google's technology

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Re: Choosing between the devil and his brother

I installed Teams on Mint

I don't know about Mint, but no issues with either video or sound in Teams on Fedora (KDE) which is my main desktop. Teams itself is shite, which is an issue, of course. Even Skype is better as a communications tool, despite the same (foster) parentage.

Someone mentioned Office/Calendar - these days people just use Office365 in a browser. Again, it's shite, but so is Outlook that has a ton of additional configuration quirks.

Actually, I suspect the main reason I have a Windows VM on my laptop is vSphere client - not even its browser-based incarnation works on Linux. Can't blame it on MSFT, really - more is the pity.

Amazon staffers took bribes, manipulated marketplace, leaked data including search algorithms – DoJ claims

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"conspired to use a communication facility"

Is it the "wire fraud" equivalent to "Send me an email, will you?" - ?

Microsoft submits Linux kernel patches for a 'complete virtualization stack' with Linux and Hyper-V

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Re: The way forward?

Maybe we can all soon run Linux, with Windows in a VM for Office :D

What do you mean by "soon"? At some point I started working at companies where some Windows was at least useful if not mandatory. That happened when I left IBM where you could choose Windows or Linux as your "client for e-business" (c4eb). Not everyone is so enlightened, so Linux host with Windows VM (for Office and for vSphere client - looking at you, VMware!) is my normal work configuration...

Ireland unfriends Facebook: Oh Zucky Boy, the pipes, the pipes are closing…from glen to US, and through the EU-side

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Re: "does this prevent people accessing it from the US? "

do yourself a favour and read it all

I did. I don't know who the author of that blog post is or whether he (is Norman the name?) is a world-renowned authority on linguistics, but I find many of the arguments there unconvincing. No downvotes for you, though - thanks for the link, even as I disagree with it.

It seems to me that the writer has his mind set on the non-scientific and non-technical use of the word data as generic "information" (mass singular noun - by the way, his usage of "massive singular" makes me doubt he is a linguistics expert). He is very far from thinking in terms of discrete measurements or data points - contexts where the notion of datum as singular and data as plural are common and standard. That's the only charitable explanation of "there's no such thing as 'datum'" and other unsupported statements that I can offer.

Maybe I am biased by my Ph.D. thesis on intergalactic medium, but to me that mass singular noun is further from the contemporary use of the corresponding plural in expressions like "mass media" or 'mainstream media" or "print media" than "datum" (that naturally corresponds to a data point, a result of measurement or observation) is from "data". It is natural to me to say or write "data were collected" in an academic paper or a technical report, but I won't be put off by a mainstream media article where a journalist will write "a lot of data was collected" - for the journalist this is equivalent to "a lot of information became available", only a bit more scientific-looking. The journalist or his readership won't care about individual recorded measurements, but the audience of a technical publication or document will. Members of the Commentariat often do, I suspect.

Major dictionaries (that should be regarded as sources of expert opinion on language), including Oxford, Cambridge, and Merriam-Webster, disagree with the blogger on all major counts. They all have entries for datum, they all list data as plural for datum, and they all say that both plural and mass singular usage of data are common and standard.

The Oxford's Lexico page (see link above) makes the same distinction between scientific and non-scientific use of data and I did above, while Merriam-Webster (again, see the link above) makes another relevant point:

"The plural construction is more common in print, evidently because the house style of several publishers mandates it."

Open access journals are vanishing from the web, Internet Archive stands ready to fill in the gaps

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

Only 176 disappeared in the last 20 years?

Doesn't sound like much. The whole OA boom happened in the last 20 years (well, maybe there were precursors on the late 90ies), and OA journals proliferated into many thousands and tens of thousands. So some small fraction don't maintain their websites anymore? Is it enough to discern a worrying trend?

And are there any really valuable, high quality journals among those that disappeared? Which of them will be missed? I looked very briefly through the paper and noticed 3 titles of journals that disappeared. I have never heard of any of them - none is in a field that I had any connection to - but none sounds remotely like Nature or Phys. Rev. Lett. or MNRAS or The Lancet. So, it is right in general to lament loss of recorded information, but how severe a loss was it for humanity?



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