* Posts by fpx

198 publicly visible posts • joined 15 May 2013


Man admits to paying magician $150 to create anti-Biden robocall


Note the Twisted Logic Here

This guy got exactly what he wanted, media and regulatory attention, and he knows that this attention plays in his favor. He knows that in the end, very likely, he will not get fined, but just be told to be nice in the future. Which turns the entire exercise into a net win for him.

Too many politicians these days have swallowed that very same logic, that there is no negative attention. The negativity eventually evaporates when the media frenzy turns elsewhere, leaving only attention behind. Welcome to entertainment circus politics in the 21st century.

JetBrains' unremovable AI assistant meets irresistible outcry


Not Without Your Consent

Ah, the old excuse. Of course your consent is buried on page 42 of a 100+ page document in legalese that you have to click through. The statement is just as nonsensical as "we take your privacy seriously."

US agencies warn made-in-China drones might help Beijing snoop on the world


In Other News ...

Using made-in-USA technology might help Washington snoop on the world.

Like using Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Tesla. Washington reserves the right to gain access to data collected by American companies worldwide or businesses operating in the greatestest nation in the inner solar system.

Sure, the difference is what you are doing with the data. I don't mind the data being used to solve crimes, but I'd prefer them to go in with a warrant based on probable cause, not to blame guilt based on association, rumor or what US citizens would refer to as free speech.

This could still wing its way to you, if you have the dosh: One Concorde engine seeks new home


Re: Asking for a Friend....

How long will it run at full thrust before it's sucked the Mustang's tanks dry? Or rather, to how many percent of full thrust will it be able to spin up before it runs out of gas?

Branson's wallet snaps shut for Virgin Galactic


Credit where Credit is Due

Give Bransom some credit for getting this venture off the ground. He has no obligation to fund this business indefinitely.

There's no ticket price for going to orbit yet, and once there is, it will be at least 100x as expensive. There's a significant slice of population who can afford a $500k joyride, but not a $50M one.

I'm not part of either slice, and even though Branson says that he doesn't have the deepest pockets anymore, I'd still be happy to trade him for mine.

Google Chrome coders really, truly, absolutely ready to cull third-party cookies from 2024


Re: I have this browser open to read El Reg and nothing else

Yes, it's a pain in the ass.

But, unlike merely refusing third-party cookies, it is actually a solution to the problem, which is that Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook etc. are all tracking you with their first-party cookies.

I wish browsers were able to sandbox cookies into windows or tabs.


I Don't Care

I don't care about third-party cookies. I flush all my cookies down the drain after each browsing session, and each session is to one site only. For example, I have this browser open to read El Reg and nothing else. When I'm done with El Reg, I close the browser, which is set to delete all cookies upon exit.

As the commenter above already said, the big advertisers have no problem to track you across the entire web anyway.

AMD's latest FPGA promises super low latency AI for Flash Boy traders


The commenters above appear to misunderstand the nature of these trades. It's about detecting minuscule price differences between trades. I.e., if you see an offer for stock of company A at $10.01, and a purchase order for the same stock at $10.05, these traders will step in and buy the stock from the first trade and sell them to the second trade.It's a guaranteed profit, you just have to be a few microseconds faster than the competition. This guaranteed profit is sucked from the other market participants, since of course the fair thing would have been to let the two trades settle directly at $10.03.

Cryptocoin Ponzi scheme AirBit Club co-founder jailed


Roulette table

Give me your money, I offer a guaranteed 90% ROI, way better than any casino or lottery!

Airport chaos as eGates down for the count across UK


No Layovers

LHR was already on my list of airports never to layover in. The threat of missing my connection is way too high. Also on the list are PHL and ORD in wintertime, and all of the greater NYC area airports any time of the year.

NASA, DARPA enlist Lockheed to build nuclear-powered spacecraft


Having dangerously limited knowledge of the subject, I wonder why you would use hydrogen instead of, say, liquid nitrogen. Wouldn't that be easier to handle and more efficient, given its higher mass?

Rocket Lab wants to dry off and reuse Electron booster recovered from the ocean


Re: Probably just as well

How hard would it be to stick some small wings and wheels on the rocket, and have it come gliding down, Space Shuttle style? No fuel needed.

It would not have to be a very soft landing, since there's no people onboard, and the structure can withstand quite a few G's.

You're too dumb to use click-to-cancel, Big Biz says with straight face

Thumb Up

Re: How about a simple rule?

Seconded. Also require clear information, on an easily reachable online page, about when the next payment will be processed, and offer an option to forward-cancel on that date, or better yet, on a specific future date.

Attorney sues Microsoft for $1.75M, claiming his email has been useless since May


Re: $6 per month service

Once upon a time, about a decade ago, I read the T&Cs for Microsoft Windows.

There was a clause that, if anything goes wrong, such as Windows eating your homework, and unless you can prove gross negligence, damages are limited to the amount of money that you paid for the Windows license, or US$ 50, or the actual damages incurred, whatever is less.

It wouldn't surprise me if a similar clause applied here. So good luck attempting to prove gross negligence against an army of lawyers.

'Joan Is Awful' Black Mirror episode rebounds on Netflix


That may be true but does not apply to my point above, which was about updates. A software provider -- like Apple in this case -- is free to attach new T&Cs to an update. It's a bundle. You have the choice to accept the updated T&Cs and install the update, or to decline the update, in which case the prior T&Cs remain in effect.

To use some more concrete examples, if you do not like Windows including more forced advertisement, you can remain with unsupported, vulnerable legacy versions. If you do not want to agree to new data collection terms and conditions with the latest WhatsApp update, you are free to remain with an earlier version -- that will be disconnected from the network in 30 days.

See, you have a choice! Or not.


Let's not forget that you not just have to read the T&C once. There is software (looking at you, Apple) that makes you re-agree to the new and improved T&Cs whenever you install a minor update.

With software updates now coming at you pretty much round the clock, new T&Cs are essentially coming to you faster than you can read them.

Amazing that this is legal.

Amazon confirms it locked Microsoft engineer out of his Echo gear over false claim


These days, the only way to get attention from customer support is by raising a stink on Twitter. Have less than a million followers? Forget about it.


And if you read all the fine print of the license agreements that you had to agree to in order to use your smart devices, you will find out that Amazon, Microsoft, Google can disable your accounts for essentially any reason. And of course you've given up the rights to sue them or join a class action suit along the way.

Sure, some of those clauses might not stand in court, but who's got the deep pockets to fight them about it?

Study recommends mandatory 3-year vacation so astronauts' brains can recover


You do not need a donut. You could start with two sections connected with a wire rotating around their center of gravity.

Bookings open for first all-electric flights around Scandinavia … in 2028

Black Helicopters

With specs like that, the plane would be ideal for island hopping, like Heathrow to the channel islands.

I'll take those 200 km all-electric range with a grain of salt, though. And going from prototype to passenger flights in two years is completely preposterous.

Twitter now worth just a third of what Musk paid for it


Break Even

Must mean that there is an even chance of it breaking completely.

Virgin Galactic flies final test before opening for business


Re: A fad if they don't rethink

Virgin Galactic is the only game in town to ride a rocket and see space.

Commercial ventures that take you to orbit may just be around the corner, but will be somewhat like 50 times as expensive.

If I had a few billion in spare change, sure, I'd thumb my nose at those poor suckers and wait a few years to take a real trip to "outer space", a.k.a. LEO, but at this price point, Virgin Galactic will still find plenty customers among the merely rich.

Since I don't even qualify for that, I'll have to stick to the few milliseconds of micro-gravity that I can get in a rollercoaster.

Handwritten Einstein essay on theory of relativity goes under the hammer

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What a load of revisionist (neo-) Nazi crap.

I see that similar drivel was recently added to the English-language Wikipedia page for Friedrich Hasenöhrl.

The German-language Wikipedia page states, in part, in my translation, "the similarity of both formulas was used by proponents of nationalsocialistic German Physics to sow doubt about Einstein's originality. Max von Laue responded that while other authors before him applied the concept of inertia to electromagnetic energy, Einstein applied it universally for all kinds of energy."

Orqa drone goggles bricked: Time-bomb ransomware or unpaid firmware license?


> "The binary firmware and update files are encrypted with a custom 1kB block encryption [...]

This sounds very much like, "I have implemented this perfect encryption that nobody can crack because I am the only genius who understands it."

A statement that has been proven wrong again and again.

Licensing questions aside, it was very unprofessional of ORQA to purchase a software module without documentation.

Saturn's rings are shrinking and boffins will use the Webb 'scope to find out why


> "leading to development of a theory that Saturn's gravity [...] attracts matter from its rings"

Have they also concluded yet that Saturn isn't flat?

Apple pushes first-ever 'rapid' patch – and rapidly screws up


I keep putting off updates because every update also includes new content that I do not want, features that I do not need, obnoxious new "assistants" that must be disabled, new "privacy" settings that must be turned off, and new annoying click-through messages to achieve what I want.

Musk tried to wriggle out of Autopilot grilling by claiming past boasts may be deepfakes


Re: All you need to know about Musk

It's all about the ads. It's about the license holder selling advertisements in certain regions only. Viewers outside the region don't count into their ad revenue and thus must be denied.

Microsoft probes complaints of Edge leaking URLs to Bing


> Despite offering a wealth of privacy toggles

See, that's the issue right here.

Edge is going to spy on you unless you manually go in, find every one of them, and turn them off.

Of course new privacy toggles are introduced with every update, and existing ones are modified, reverting to "yes of course I allow Microsoft to spy on every web page I visit."

It's a game of whack-a-mole that those of us with finite time can not win.

To improve security, consider how the aviation world stopped blaming pilots


Pilot Error

In the end, a large proportion of aviation accidents come down to pilot error, unfortunately. Pilots have ultimate control over their aircraft and are in position to avoid accidents. Most aviation accidents would have been preventable, if the pilots hat acted properly. Unfortunately, that "proper action" is sometimes obvious only in retrospect.

Therefore, when an accident happens, there is a culture of questioning why it came to that, and why the pilots did not use their opportunity to avoid the accident. Were pilots given false, conflicting or misleading information? Were they distracted by an overload of concurrent events? Were they following a checklist, and if not, why not?

I encourage everyone to read NTSB aviation accident reports. They go into deep detail about what could have been done to prevent an accident. The reports do not blame the pilot, but investigate why pilots acted the way they did, and what should be done to assist future pilots in recognizing a similar situation, and to arrive at the proper action earlier.

This holistic approach to investigating incidents without attributing blame is something that we can all learn from.

Happy Valentine's Day: Here's the final nail in Internet Explorer's coffin


Microsoft's own free viewer for Visio only runs in Internet Explorer. There's a long how-to to get this plugin running in Edge using its "IE mode", requiring a full page of registry edits.

Latest Windows 11 build shares desktop real estate with, er, Spotify


Re: As long as it's removable!

Cue the pop-up, "Spotify has updated their widget. We realize that you uninstalled the previous version, but we have re-installed the new version for your convenience since we really think that you should check out the new and improved features!"

With every new version, Windows keeps turning more and more into a giant billboard.

Beijing grants permit to 'flying car' that can handle 'roads and low altitude'

Black Helicopters

Re: Why?

Helicopters are mechanically complex and therefore pretty expensive to operate (in the range of US$1k per hour) and difficult to fly. Because of both, it is expensive to get a pilots license (in the range of US$100k, and many times that if you intend to fly commercially), meaning that you have to spend $$$ to fly yourself or spend $$$ to hire a pilot to shuttle you around.

An electric quad- or octocopter could be significantly less complex (since you would not have turbines or a tilt rotor), and with automation much easier to fly. In theory, together that could bring down the operating cost considerably, so even people that are not obscenely rich could afford an occasional trip, but also the merely rich.

So if you build one, the market will be there, even with all the limitations you mention in terms of restrictions, licensing, payload, etc.

Uncle Sam greenlights first commercial nuclear small modular reactor design


Prepping for the coming zombie apocalypse, can I get one of them for my underground volcano island lair?

Live Nation CFO on Taylor Swift ticket chaos: Don't blame me, bots made me crazy


The problem is that tickets are sold at artificially deflated prices. If tickets were sold at market value, i.e., where demand meets supply, all problems with bots and scalpers will disappear.

Keeping supply constant means rising prices. Sure, artists would look like even more greedy bastards if their tickets were $1000 instead of $100.

Keeping prices constant means rising supply, i.e., making 100 tour stops instead of 10, or doing three concerts a day for weeks at a time, you know, like theaters or musicals do.

Belarus legalizes piracy – but citizens will have to pay for it


Frankly, I agree with the sentiment that it ought to be legal to pirate content that rights holders refuse to make available. An increasing amount of content is geo-restricted. E.g., movies or TV shows made for a streaming platform that refuses sign-ups outside of their geofence. Streaming platforms should be forced to open up to the world.

Ah, to live in Antigua and Barbuda, which was officially allowed by the WTO to pirate US content, in retaliation for the US refusing to allow its citizens to engage in "free trade" (online gambling) with the country. (https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds285_e.htm)

NASA starts assessing Orion capsule for refurb

Black Helicopters

There was an interesting article about the Artemis III mission, i.e., the sequel to the sequel, in the paywalled NYT the other day.

The gist was that Elon Musk has sold the NASA a lunar lander, that does not exist yet. The lunar lander needs a Starship, which does not exist yet, to get off the ground. However, the Starship only has enough fuel to get to earth orbit. Therefore, SpaceX must deliver a gas station to orbit, which does not exist yet. And as much as 8 launches of a tanker, which does not exist yet, are needed to fill up the gas station, using fuel transfers which have never been attempted in microgravity before.

And it does not help that the SpaceX engineers and leadership must first fix Twitter.


Would I fly to the moon in a reused spaceship?

Yes, of course. For the same reason that I prefer to fly aircraft that have flown before: it has already proven that it can fly safely.

FTX's crypto villain Sam Bankman-Fried admits 'I made a lot of mistakes'


Translated: I sometimes feel a bit sorry for the poor souls who lost everything by trusting me. But then I take a nice walk on the beach that I purchased with the funds I funneled away and have a drink.

Google reveals another experimental operating system: KataOS


Re: Reinventing the wheel... for what purpose?

The difference is that it is *possible* to build a secure device on a provably secure microkernel. Of course you can still screw up security on any level.

Don't confuse the security that is talked about here with freedom from viruses or malware on a PC. Secure microkernels are a big deal e.g., where safety is important, like in medical devices. You don't want them to fail just because of a hard to find bug in the OS.

Delta Air Lines throws $60m at flying taxi startup Joby Aviation

Black Helicopters

Just like a flying ... Helicopter

Of course there are already plenty of flying taxis for the super-rich using helicopters.

And this gadget can do everything that a helicopter can. Except for range. And speed. And payload. When they talk about four passengers, they are probably thinking four times 100lb with no luggage.

Well, helicopters are difficult to fly, and expensive to run and maintain, so maybe electric quadcopters or similar designs will offer an advantage there, opening up the flying taxi market to the slightly less affluent. I.e., not just multi-millionaires but also TikTok influencers and the like.

US-funded breakthrough battery tech just simply handed over to China


Re: ... long potential lead times

Well that is not entirely true. There was a lot of money flowing into Theranos, and there is also funding for pie in the sky stuff like Boom (supersonic airplanes), never mind autonomous electric flying taxi gadgets. All of these technologies have long lead time, and a very high risk of not actually returning any profit, ever.

There is plenty of money slushing around for high-risk, long-term endeavours. But maybe an incremental improvement in battery tech is not as sexy as a supersonic passenger jet.

We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything


Re: Modern copiers

Not just copiers, but scanners, too. My simple Canon does-nothing-but-scanning scanner reports an "unknown error" when its innards detect what it thinks is currency.

See here for the watermark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_Identification_Code

It's based on the printer's serial number. If you print anything that the government does not like, they can track you down by manufacturer (which store it was delivered to) and purchase records (what credit card it was purchased with).

Pentagon: We'll pay you if you can find a way to hack us


Small Change

Crypto (-currencies, -exchanges) come with much bigger bug bounty programs. Find a bug, write an exploit, loot the vault and walk away.

Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation


The Wrong Way Around

All current and proposed privacy regulation focuses on consent. That is the wrong way around. It implies that companies can do whatever they want with our data if they just ask nicely and are upfront about it. This model requires choice, the option to choose among different services based on their commitment to privacy. But we do not really have that. Yes, cou can choose Linux instead of Microsoft or Apple. You can choose to pay cash at Walmart instead of shopping at Amazon. You can choose to not use FaceTikWhatsSnapChatGram and invite your friends to some other social web. Use other search engines than Google. Yes, that is all possible, but it is not practical, and is becoming less practical by the day. Tech companies are entrenched and are exploiting their monopolies for sucking up data and want to keep it that way.

We need to break them up, and outlaw data sharing, period.

Ransomware the final nail in coffin for small university


The article says that it cost them less than $100,000 to restore their systems and that they then faced a budget shortfall of $50,000,000.

So this is like blaming the mint for the belly explosion.

RAD Basic – the Visual Basic 7 that never was – releases third alpha


Ah, the good old days when I generated C++ code from UML models using the Basic dialect baked into [then IBM] Rational Rose.

Study: How Amazon uses Echo smart speaker conversations to target ads


"forces you to sign a 200 page legal document."

Oh no, in the real world there is no need for that. By walking into the store, you have already accepted the house rules of the mall, and the house rules of the shop within the mall. Which may well entitle security to strip search you. And might include words like, "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." Which the store manager might do for whatever reason they like. They can kick you out essentially without reason, without redress.

The house rules merely need to be posted somewhere. Good luck finding, reading and comprehending them.

See, meat-space and metaverse aren't so different after all.

UK government told to tighten purse strings or public will have to foot the bill for nuclear decommissioning


My dad was an engineer at one of the earliest commercial nuclear power plants in Germany. He retired early in 1995 along with the plant. The plan was to return the site to its prior state, i.e., back to a "green pasture." Now, 27 years later, most of the structures are still standing (except for the cooling towers, which would have crumbled without maintenance), and engineers are still trying to figure out how to dismantle 3 meter thick concrete foundations of the strongest concrete available at the time. Some low-radiation remains are still on site, because Germany, like everywhere else, still hasn't found a place willing to accept radioactive waste. No idea what the original budget for the build-back was, but they must have exceeded it 10x by now with no end in sight.

How to polish the bottom line? Microsoft makes it really hard to claim expenses, say staffers


Ah, the good old days when expenses could be approved by my immediate manager with a "be reasonable" attitude. I always was reasonable and got all expenses paid with no questions asked. Direct 2h flights when a 6h connecting flight was slightly cheaper? Check. Stay for the weekend, when the weekly car rental was about the same price as the 5 day rental? No sweat. Occasional $50 dinners? Fine, everybody did that. Oh, the flight is $200 cheaper with a saturday stay? Yeah, of course you can then expense the $150 for the weekend hotel stay.

Now, at a consulting company where expenses are bounced to the customer that might ask questions? No way.

Machine needs more Learning: Google Drive dings single-character files for copyright infringement


Re: Google is shit at software

Unfortunately, the legal system will first ask you for demonstrable, personal harm that you have suffered. If there is none, if it is not quantifiable, or if it is zero because the service that you were unable to use was free to start with, you are out of luck.

On the other hand, let's not forget that the bullies in this match are the rights holders. Not the individuals writing books or making movies, but the large agencies. In the fight of Disney, Sony, Random House etc. against Google, we are collateral damage.