* Posts by fpx

161 publicly visible posts • joined 15 May 2013

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

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Angel

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Pirate

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

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Flame

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

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Facepalm

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

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Flame

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

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"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

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Mushroom

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

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Go

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

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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.

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Devil

"Relying on viral social media posts as a sort of backdoor communication channel to the developers should not be the only option."

Au contraire. That is the modern way of filtering complaints. If social media decides that an issue is not important, then obviously it is not worth spending effort on. Don't worry, once Google is done fixing issues that attract a billion views, they might get concerned about the issues that attract only millions of views.

Who would ever get rich in a billion user market by fixing issues that only affect a few?

Open source, closed wallets, big profits – nobody wins the OSS rock, paper, scissors game

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Megaphone

Thus confirming the vision of Richard Stallmann. If companies can take your work for free without giving back, they will.

Scam, pyramid scheme, environmental disaster: Vivaldi boss shares his thoughts on crypto-coins

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Pint

One basic issue with a block *chain* is that it, by design, records every transaction since the beginning of time. And then you replicate this database of all historical transactions with every participant. Currency does not need memory. WIth a Euro coin (real or virtual), I don't care who paid for what with it yesterday.

Better CEO is 'taking time off' after firing 900 staff on Zoom

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Angel

Mission accomplished!

Giving this guy some paid time off and paying a PR company to mop up the mess is still cheaper than treating employees humanely in the first place.

His services will be in future demand wherever the C-levels decide that heads must roll to increase shareholder value. I.e., all across the US.

Assange extradition case goes to UK Home Secretary as High Court rules he can be sent to US for trial

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Angel

This ruling is to be expected, as it was only about the extradition, not about guilt. The question to be answered was whether Assange would get a fair trial in the US. An allied western country is never going to go against the US, that would be a significant diplomatic affront.

What Assange did is not so much different than the Pentagon Papers and would center on whether Assange qualifies as a journalist, and how much assistance he gave to whistleblowers. Assange might well win his case -- after a very long legal fight.

My guess is that the US is not particularly interested in the case going to court either. This is mostly about sending a signal to other potential whistleblowers. Even if he wins, he would have lost 20+ years of his life -- counting from his escape to Ecuador to a Supreme Court appeal. The US government wants potential whistleblowers to take notice that your life will be ruined one way or the other.

Apple 'diverts' iPad components to iPhone 13 production, Euro sources not feeling pinch yet

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Devil

Too Cheap

In other words, Apple stuff is too cheap: they could just rise prices until demand meets supply.

Tesla slams into reverse, pulls latest beta of Full Self-Driving software from participating car owners

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Devil

Re: Safety Score

No, that probably has other reasons. Your insurance is based on the number of kilometers you drive annually. So you sign up for insurance for, e.g., 10,000 km/a. Then all they need is the initial odometer reading. When you have an accident, they will ask again, and if you've exceeded your limit on average, they will simply deny your insurance claim.

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Mushroom

Safety Score

The bit that irks me more is the note about safety scores. "Sent out [...] initially only to those with "perfect" safety scores, according to Musk, before being made available to those with Safety Scores of 99/100."

So your car rates your safety. I guess it won't be long before these scores are collated by data aggregators à la Equifax and sold to whoever is interested. Presumably except to yourself, you know, because of security. Then your car dealer will let you know that, "sorry, with a safety score of only 97 out of 100, you can not have that tuning kit."

Insurances. Car rentals. Ride sharing. Inner cities. All will deny you based on some black-box AI assessing your driving skills. What can go wrong?

Ex-US intel, military trio were cyber-mercenaries for UAE, say prosecutors

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FAIL

Exploits developed, purchased and deployed. Phones hacked. Targets jailed and worse. And the only crime that they can be convicted for is "export controls"? So presumably, if they had not purchased exploits from US companies, they would have had nothing to worry about.

Apple emergency patches fix zero-click iMessage bug used to inject NSO spyware

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Devil

This is where I'd rather see Apple engineers spend their image scanning powers on.

Now that the vulnerability is known, it is easy to implement an algorithm that identifies malicious files exploiting this vulnerability. No need to train an AI or anything.

Apple could run that algorithm on all images stored in the iCloud, and potentially also on handsets. This would immediately turn up all iThings that are or were compromised using this exploit today or months ago, and help us identify a lot of other NSO customers.

The day has a 'y' in it, so Virgin Galactic has announced another delay

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Facepalm

No. It's a completely different value proposition.

Microgravity for milliseconds on a Roller Coaster at Disneyland ... $50

Microgravity for seconds in the Vomit Comet ... $5,000

Microgravity for minutes + See Space package with Virgin Galactic ... $500,000

Microgravity for as long as your oxygen lasts, Space included .... $50,000,000

If you have the $50M to spare and don't have to be home by supper, then of course you will not give a second look to what Virgin Galactic has to offer.

If you have less money in the bank but are desperate to see space, then Virgin Galactic may be your best shot.

Me, I'll have to stick with the Disneyland rides until my lottery ticket comes in. I'm also still waiting for affordable balloon rides to space, since I care more about the space part than the microgravity part.

You walk in with a plan. You leave with GPS-tracking Nordic hiking poles. The same old story, eh?

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Pint

I also suffer from occasional impulse purchases. What saves me most of the time is asking myself, "where would I put it?" Given that all rooms and the basement are already full of stuff that I *might* need but never do. This question is most effective with kitchen utilities. Yeah, a rice steamer would be nice to have, but the kitchen ist just too damn full already!

Ok, so I wrote this comment with little to say just to be no. 100. Although I'm sure that others are writing comments at the same time so that I'll end up #105.

Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos fraud trial begins: Defense claims all she did was fail – and that's not a crime

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Trollface

If she were a fraud, she would have offloaded some of her shares when they were worth billions. Instead, she believed her own lies to the very end and went under with the ship.

I believe she was locked in a bubble, only seeing the positive, and probably losing her temper when anyone attempted to tell her about problems, until nobody did.

That doesn't make her any less guilty, of course.

Crypto-coin startup said its bot could generate huge profits from your Bitcoin. It was a scam, says SEC

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Devil

Too bad I missed this opportunity. At 40% a month, I would have started with a $10 investment, and then I would have cashed out $1 after the first month, $1.40 the second month and so on.

THX Onyx: A do-it-all DAC for the travelling audiophile

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Facepalm

Not your Parents' THX

THX has come a long way from being a seal of approval for state of the art cinemas to maginally-better-than-the-rest consumer equipment.

THX is a label certifying that a piece of equipment meets certain minimum standards. Technology has made their high standards in audio and video reproduction easier to achieve apparently to the point were hardware manufacturers do not have to try very hard to meet their minimums and basically only have to send in a spec sheet and licensing fees to qualify.

Still it feels like a race to the bottom.

Full Stream ahead: Microsoft will end 'classic' method of recording Teams meetings despite transcription concerns

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Facepalm

There is a long list of missing features and bugs in Teams that Microsoft just does not address.

My crappy web cam gets confused by a bright background (it's called the sun) and gets the automatic white balance wrong, so that my face ends up black. In Skype for Business, I could just click on a button and adjust camera settings manually. Not in Teams. The recommended workaround is to adjust the settings using SfB while in a Teams call. Really?

More recently, my participant list keeps disappearing. According to the Microsoft user forum, there are thousands others with the same issue, but nothing has been happening there since April.

So I have very little faith that they will get around to adding transcript edititng anytime soon. They are far too busy redesigning the UX every other week, and adding new features so that they can keep popping up tool tips to keep their captive users engaged. Got it!

Apple is about to start scanning iPhone users' devices for banned content, professor warns

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Devil

Nothing to Worry About

There is only a low probability of a false positive.

After the SWAT team breaks down your door at 4 am and confiscates all your PCs and phones and other electronics, it will only take them a few months to scan it. Then you will only have to answer a few curious questions about "can you explain *this* and *that* on your hard drive" even though this and that has nothing to do with the original find.

No problem, that will all clear up after only a few years.You will be unable to work without your gear, and everybody around you will be very suspicious, but that is a small price to pay for society as a whole.

Low probability times a few billion users? Meh.

Amazon sets the date for televised return to Middle Earth: September 2022

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Facepalm

Re: Production subsidies ?!?

Re: "LOTR is likely to bring a lot more that $100M in tourism alone"

I never understood why people would go all the way to NZ ... to visit a film set.

Isn't there anything else in NZ worth visiting?

Giant Tesla battery providing explosion in renewable energy – not as intended

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Boffin

If this thingy could crank out 300 Megawatts permanently, I would call it a power plant, not a battery.

Can you user proper units of energy, please? I see that it is just as misleading in the referenced article, but Google takes me to https://victorianbigbattery.com.au/ which educates me that "The Victorian Big Battery is a 300 MW / 450 MWh grid-scale battery storage project in Geelong, Australia which will store enough energy in reserve to power over one million Victorian homes for 1/2 an hour."

Since it's the only way to differentiate in a Chromium-dominated market, Vivaldi 4.1 introduces 'Accordion' tabs

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Re: North Korean link???!!!!!

Accordions should make you think of Al Yankovic, not North Korea. Although it is possible to combine the two. Or the three, if you open this link in a Vivaldi accordion tab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY70Y9I1U7k

Hungarian tech store closed by World War II bomb

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Mushroom

Still happens all across Germany with depressing regularity at pretty much every large construction site in every major city. This one was in May: https://www.hessenschau.de/panorama/erleichterung-nach-bombensprengung-in-frankfurt-,bombe-frankfurt-nordend-100.html. In this case, the bomb squad decided that defusing the bomb was too risky, and it had to be detonated in place, necessitating the evacuation of 25.000 people including a large hospital in a 700m radius.

Everyone cites that 'bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production' research, but the study might not even exist

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Boffin

I also helped to spread that myth. However, my reference was not IBM, but NASA: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20100036670, from 2004. As far as I know, NASA did exist at that time. It does quote [Boehm81] -- which might be the dodgy study mentioned here -- but adds its own body of evidence.

South Korean uni installs lavatory that pays out when you spend a penny

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Boffin

I hope the next version of the toilet will also deduct lots of Ggools if the user leaves it in unsanitary conditions.

Japan assembles superteam of aircraft component manufacturers to build supersonic passenger plane

fpx

That is true. I guess I unconsciously excluded routes over the Pacific because of what I expect to be limited range. The Concorde was 50% fuel at take-off and yet was close to maximum range on its Atlantic routes. Wikipedia says about the Boom: "With 4,500 nmi of range, transpacific flights would require a refueling stop," again biting into the small margin that they have if you have to detour and lose an hour for the refueling stop.

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Devil

Supersonic passenger jets are doomed to fail unless sonic boom issues are resolved. A plane that can only fly supersonic over the ocean will not reduce practical travel times for most routes.

There's London or Paris to New York like the Concorde, but what else? When you're going three hours over land from, say, Frankfurt to Chicago no faster than a regular aircraft, then the advantage of saving two hours over the Atlantic does not make that much of a difference. Never mind the hours spent in lines for boarding and immigration, or stuck in the airport connecting.

No need to pay premium to save 2 hours on an 18 hour travel. Boom et al claim that tickets will be no more expensive than with a regular flight, which is obviously silly nonsense when you have a plane that is half the size and consumes a lot more fuel (not that they are willing to tell you *how* much).

Supersonic private jets might fill a niche for the super super rich, though. "Mine's faster than your puny Gulfstream!"

Apple's macOS is sub-par for security, Apple exec Craig Federighi tells Epic trial

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Devil

A computer that runs the software that I want rather than the software that I am permitted to run, as deciced by Apple? Oh no, think of the children!

Seriously, the walled garden of iOS makes it hard to develop, distribute and use open source software.

Google will make you use two-step verification to login

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Devil

I have multiple GMail accounts and clean my browser cookies when switching between sessions.

Forcing me to enter a mobile phone number will finally allow them to track me across my multiple identities. How convenient for them!

Sure, they might already fingerprint my browser to track me, but that only gives them probability, not certainty.

File this next to Mars bars under 'things that should not be deep-fried': Marks & Spencer's Colin the Caterpillar

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Pint

Think of the Tourist

I remember a trip to the french countryside, and one of my party ordered "pied de porc" from a Very French restaurant under the assumption that it must be a regional delicacy. It turned out exactly what you asked for, a pig's foot, all bone with very few edible and fewer digestible parts. We asked the waiter about it in our best broken french, and his response was, "only tourists order that!"

So leave your deep-fried chocolate bars on the menu, it's what the tourists think is essentially scottish!

Greener Windows? Microsoft previews EcoQoS and Task Manager Eco Mode for would-be power-sipping devs

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Mushroom

Imagine the power savings if billions of Windows PCs stopped spying -- sorry, gathering mandatory telemetry data -- on their users.

Nigerian email scammer sent down for 40 months in the US, ordered to pay back $2.7m to victims

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Re: I'm in the wrong job......

Re: "Your not telling me that Cashiers Cheques (Checks) can be cashed in for thousand of dollars on presentation of a fake passport and ID?"

Yup, that's exactly how it is. Money gets credited to your account immediately. This is essentially a measure of consumer protection, so that poor souls that are waiting for a paycheck get access to their funds immediately and don't have to wait for the banking system to clear the check. That will happen behind the scenes, and then the sender can claw their money back after up to 6 weeks.

A lot of advance fee fraud schemes depend on this delay. Scammers send you a check for $$$, you can cash it and see $$$ in your account immediately. Then you wire $$ back to the scammers using Western Union, -- where the money is gone for good right away -- and a few weeks later the bank takes all of the $$$ back because the check was bad.

To cash a check, you need to open a bank account first, and the bank will check your identity. There's a good amount of traceability, and you will likely be found if you cash a fraudulent check. That's why other Nigerian princes use money mules as go-betweens.

Key Perl Core developer quits, says he was bullied for daring to suggest programming language contained 'cruft'

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Re: It is fine

I've come to see the language as largely irrelevant. Python, C, Ruby, Java, Perl -- in the end the syntax hardly matters.

What's so much more important is the set of libraries that is available. Need to talk to a REST API? Interface with an SQLite database? What you need is the right library for the job, and then you suffer the language that it is written in.

All right, this is a bit of an oversimplification. Still, there's a grain of truth in there.

DoorDash delivery drivers try to manipulate the food biz's payment algorithm to earn a living wage in gig economy

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Trollface

The "genius" of these companies is that the algorithms are essentially a reverse auction, finding the lowest possible wage that desperate people will work for. If enough people participate in the effort to decline deliveries below $7, then there will be a new crop of slightly more desperate dashers willing to snap up deliveries at $6.50 before they lose the trip to someone else.

Spotify to introduce lossless audio streaming: Better sound or inefficient gimmick?

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Boffin

CD vs MP3 Blind Test

Twenty years ago, German c't Magazine arranged for a blind test of CD vs MP3, using high quality equipment in a high quality sound room. Some test persons were chosen for their professional background in music, some were chosen at random. Music was played, and they had to choose whether it was from MP3 or CD.

The bottom line is that the test persons could distinguish 128 kBit/s MP3 versus CDs better than average, though not reliably. For 256 kBit MP3 versus CD, it was a coin toss, i.e., the test persons chose correctly as much as incorrectly.

Original article in German: https://www.heise.de/ct/artikel/Kreuzverhoertest-287592.html

Facebook tells Portuguese court that a biz called Oink And Stuff makes profile-harvesting browser extensions

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Re: Myanmar?

Myanmar is home to 50+ million people. The chances that many of them are excellent software developers is quite high, actually.

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Boffin

Softpedia

My understanding is that Softpedia merely "certifies" that the software that you download is free from viruses. Their site harks back to the days before Sourceforge when people downloaded shareware packages from dodgy sites, where popular software was re-packaged with added trojans. Well people still do that, though there are now better alternatives.

So the seal of approval from Softpedia that the download is free from third-party malware is meaningless here, when the software is nothing but malware in the first place.

US Department of Homeland Security warns American business not to use Chinese tech or let data behind the Great Firewall

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Megaphone

Mandatory backdoors, key sharing, and data harvesting are evil? Indeed. Now put your foot where your mouth is and stop demanding the very same at home.

Chuck Yeager, sound barrier pioneer pilot, dies at 97

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Alert

I am also reminded of Chuck Yeager's relationship to The Fastest Man on Earth, John Paul Stapp, and their involvement with Edward A. Murphy, the namesake for Murphy's Law.

See https://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume9/v9i5/murphy/murphy0.php

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