* Posts by Howard Long

40 posts • joined 28 Jan 2014

It's nearly 2019, and your network can get pwned through an oscilloscope

Howard Long

Re: stuxnet/duqu

I have a 1GHz HP/Agilent/Keysight Infiniium mixed signal scope in the lab from about 2003 running XP although there were earlier editions of the same scope running Windows 98. An equivalent new scope today (with equivalent options such as deep memory and serial triggering) would be around $20,000.

The equivalent higher end scopes today still run full fat Windows, I think it’s still Windows 7. The low to mid range run Windows CE.

The top end scopes go for same price as a house,

Howard Long

Still plenty of XP and Windows 2000 scopes

There is still plenty of high end test equipment about running Windows XP, 2000 and even 95/98 with ethernet ports.

The simple reason is that new hardware replacements for high end gear are several $10k or $100k.

The problem is that high end test equipment has a useful lifetime far beyond your average PC, measured in decades, not years.

Adding any OS with network capability to any hardware with little or no upgrade path inevitably builds in obsolescence, unless you don’t plug it in.

Watt? You thought the wireless charging war was over? It ain't even begun

Howard Long


Corrrection for the sake of the pedants, the Americas comprise ITU Region 2, not Region 1.

Howard Long


"Energous is FCC certified as of Dec 27th."

... for a four day charge time of your average cell phone.

Howard Long


For the Energous device:

Part 18 of FCC regs on 915MHz, Part 15 on 2.4GHz Bluetooth. Part 18 covers non-telecomms RF devices like microwave ovens and covers SAR levels, which is why there's a 50cm "keep out" distance in front of the device. Unlike Part 15 devices, there are no specific power limits in Part 18, just the SAR level limits are applicable.

The 915MHz ISM allocation is specfic to the Americas only (ITU Region 1). I am not sure if there are similar regulations equivalent to Part 18 in other countries outside the US, but one thing's for sure, it's not global.

Howard Long

Re: I would recommend reading this...

Indeed, and with a claimed 100mW charging rate and a 10Wh battery, that's a four day charge time, assuming the device is switched off and near 100% charging efficiency.

Oh, and with an efficiency in the region of 1%, its green credentials are ground breaking, just not in a good way.

Core-blimey! Intel's Core i9 18-core monster – the numbers

Howard Long

Multiple cores makes development a breeze

My use case is cross platform and embedded development, my daily driver for this is a dual core Xeon E5-2697v2 (24C/48T) from the Ivy Bridge era. If you have thousands of source files to compile for multiple targets, or for the edit-compile-debug loop, it makes it a relative breeze. Going to the more mainstream i7-7700K or even Ryzen 7 1800x is really quite a disappointment for productivity (relatively speaking, of course!)

Google's macho memo man fired, say reports

Howard Long

Open discussion, oops, oppression

While I don't support the content of the ten pager or its aims, I totally support his right to say it, and be free to discuss it.

Shutting down a discussion does not make it magically go away. "A workplace culture that is free from intimidation"... errrr, you just fired someone for their opinion, sounds like intimidation to me. Winning people over by oppression, not quite the workplace I'd like to be in.

Microsoft quietly emits patch to undo its earlier patch that broke Windows 10 networking

Howard Long

Re: Emergency boot partition

Indeed... except (a) some software is specifically not supported on VMs and (b) neither is some hardware (many peripheral PCIe cards for example).

While VMs are a great solution for many things they are not a universal panacea.

Howard Long

Re: ,So there's an online fix for not being able to get online?

Nope, ipconfig /release and /renew alone certainly did not work for me, it was the first thing I tried before discovering there was something else more subtle afoot. It needed those previously published pair of netsh commands plus a restart.

Busted Windows 8, 10 update blamed for breaking Brits' DHCP

Howard Long

Wireshark/network traces

I still do, been using network traces for decades. It's getting harder though. First, there was the move from hubs (and token ring) to switches (and Ethernet) so you couldn't just sniff all the traffic from another host on the same LAN segment. For some years, I carried around a crappy old hub and a crossover cable (remember those too?) to intercept traffic.

Nowadays you need to persuade the network guy the SPAN switch ports for you, which can delay things to such an extent that you start installing sniffers on the affected host... which can and does sometimes have its own side effects, such as differences in where the stack is executed in promiscuous mode (NIC or OS).

Then almost all traffic became TLS/SSL making it more difficult to trace application layer problems from network traces.

It still has its place, but I use interactive network traces a lot less than I used to because of both the political and the technical challenges around getting it set up in the enterprise. In the development phase I use them much more frequently on the local host.

They can be exceptionally useful tools. Despite the pervasive use of TLS, often you don't need to know anything about the payload data at all, just seeing the conversation metadata is enough to determine if you have a client-side or server-side problem. I rarely see people use sniffers nowadays though, they're more likely to hit Google.

As DHCP negotiations are in the clear, it would be easy to identify which side of the conversation was at fault.

My laptop had the problem this morning, I should've fired up wireshark/netmon. Instead I followed the instructions and rebooted like a good script kiddie, and it fixed it.

I suspect just a reboot or two fixes it, as I discovered that the update was requesting one, and this is what the nub of the problem is. The update itself gets applied but needs a reboot which is delayed, so DHCP breaks in the process. After the DHCP lease time expires, or the machine comes out of sleep or hibernation, the DHCP request fails because the update needed a proper reboot to finish and work properly. Hence, machine cannot connect to the LAN or t'internet.

Qualcomm, Microsoft plot ARM Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs, tablets, phones

Howard Long

Shoot in foot

If, like with Windows RT, they delibrately cripple the OS so it can't run recompiled ARM versions of x86 desktop apps, it will fail again.

My Surface RT ended up being nothing more than a video streamer, after discovering that not even Hello World would work.

VCs to Trump: You know what would really make America great? Tax breaks for VCs

Howard Long

VCs: listen up!

I have a way VCs can do just fine with the talent already at home. Work a bit harder on your due diligence skills before you piss away other people's money on fundamentally flawed projects when looking for your next unicorn.

Oh, such short memories. Anyone remember Theranos? I am not one for regulation, but the VC "industry" is crying out for it. If ever there were a bunch of suits lining themselves up for negligence claims it's the VCs.

If the talent is so much better overseas then invest there. But it's not better. It is cheaper though. Funny that.

We wanna give IoT folk kilobit data rates, beam NB-IoT telcos

Howard Long

Re: Not necessarily a bad idea

Broadly speaking, higher bandwidth needs higher power to be seen above the noise floor. In fundamental terms it's a case of swings and roundabouts, i.e. there's no such thing as a free lunch.

You can thank Claude Shannon among others for that.

For IoT (gawd I hate that acronym!), producing RF typically costs orders of magnitude more in terms of power requirements compared to any processing requirements. The main exception I can think of is always-on real time video applications, which will innevitably be power hungry in the processing department, and you're likely to need wide bandwidth anyway to make it a viable product.

Emulating x86: Microsoft builds granny flat into Windows 10

Howard Long

Not really anything too new

I wrote an x86 & PC emulator for Windows CE around 1998, it interpreted the instruction set and the standard peripherals of a PC such as the PIC, but also paravirtualused many of the interrupt calls. We didn't call it paravirtualusation back then though. It ran at about the equivalent speed to an 8MHz PC AT on a 33MHz MIPS processor.

ISTR Linux had DOSEMU at about that time too.

You discover weird stuff undergoing such an exercise when you can't get DOS to boot: one or two undocumented processor features were used for example.

The market? As the article states, there are shedloads of vertical market niche applications out there that will never be re-coded in this month's hottest language/framework.

It was both a shame and a stunning marketing fail that Microsoft deliberately crippled Windows RT to Modern UI only apps from third parties, that pretty much killed it off before it was born. Maybe they did learn something.

Fancy a wee quasi-DRAM? Supermicro bulks up server memory

Howard Long


Some of them are spacers with no fan function but look like fans. In fact if it's like the 1U Supermicro chassis I'm familiar with, each of those fans are actually two fans, resilience don't you know.

Pocket C.H.I.P. makers go Pro with cloud-linked ARM-flexing module for IoT gizmo builders

Howard Long

Re: Glazed over at the mention of...

Indeed, but have you considered how this outfit is surviving and intends to survive, selling $6 devices to geeks, bearing in mind the overheads of being in the Bay Area and circa dozen+ FTEs?

Sure it'll work without their cloudy based option, but do you think that they will offer any support in getting your non-revenue earning non-cloud based system going? As an OEM myself, I can state that they are barely breaking even on the hardware, let alone funding their operations and R&D. They need to make up the money somwhere, and this is from value add sales like screens, keyboards, subscription cloud: the device itself is an attention seeking loss leader narketing ploy, just like razor blades or ink cartridges.

They have yet to make good on their $9 Kickstarter, with only a fraction of those delivered.

Consider the financials of this outfit for one moment, once their funding bubble bursts, it's landfill. That was my point, sorry I wasn't clearer!

Howard Long

Glazed over at the mention of...

...cloud subscription.

Nope, not interested in another piece of obsolete landfill.

Inside the Box thinking: People want software for the public cloud

Howard Long


No, I don't want a 100% cloud based service, where the services offered come and go as the vendor pleases, I cannot access my data without a working high speed internet link, service terms and conditions are unilaterally changed on a weekly basis, or one serviced by a company likely surviving off VC piss.

Howard Long


No, I don't want a 100% cloud based service, where the services offered come and go as the vendor pleases, I cannot access my data without a working high speed internet link, service terms and conditions are unilaterally changed on a weekly basis, or one serviced by a company surviving off VC piss.

Should Computer Misuse Act offences committed in UK be prosecuted in UK?

Howard Long

Re: Take (NOT) back control

"EU directives were on if the last things in between us and a corporatocracy"

*cough* You do know about TTIP, right? *cough*

HP Inc's rinky-dink ink stink: Unofficial cartridges, official refills spurned by printer DRM

Howard Long

Re: Its not just the firmware...

The HP way does survive, just not in HP, in spun off companies like Agilent and Keysight, all key technology leaders and innovators in the true sense, unlike the HP of today which is a vehicle for short term casino "investment".

Google broke its own cloud by doing two updates at once

Howard Long

Change management 101

Bizarre, who, in their right mind, would schedule multiple concurrent changes without fully testing that scenario first?

Hey, turn down that radio, it's alien season and we're hunting aliens

Howard Long

Re: Won't work

Jeffy poohs, It is swings and roundabouts if you include path loss, as you'll see I specificallly mentioned.

However as I also mentioned, going down in frequency also increases the ambient noise floor.

But then making very low noise receivers is easier at lower frequencies.

But then your beam width increases with lower frequency, so more noise.

But then increased beam width means more simultaneous coverage.

But then wider coverage area means more difficult to pinpoint the source.

Lots of swings and roundabouts, but my main point was around the size of the antenna aperture combined with path loss, and all other things being equal means that the change in gain due to frequency is offset by the change in path loss. It's all part of an RF link budget calculation.

Just sayin' ;-)

Howard Long

Re: Won't work

Check your maths. Swings and roundabouts on antennas and path loss vs frequency.

Gain for a given antenna aperture area is proportional to frequency squared, not cubed. Note this is area, not diameter.

However pathloss over a given distance is proportional to frequency.

The reason to go up in frequency traditionally has been to avoid noise, terrestrial as well as galactic.

Power cut crashes Delta's worldwide flight update systems

Howard Long

Re: LHR to ATL about 20 years ago

Interesting, because in those days, Delta didn't fly to or from LHR, it was Gary Gatwick. Just sayin'.

Is uBeam the new Theranos?

Howard Long

Re: Worlds best tranducer, Worlds best microphone

Inverse square law applies to all point sources, whether omni or directional, in a linear transmission medium.

In near field, with very large radiators (ie, non-point sources in near field), such as very large phased arrays, it is possible to concentrate energy from a distance of the order of a few wavelengths, but it'll be a frikkin big array with hundreds if not thousands of point sources with appropriate separation.

More of a problem is the non-linearity of air at the power needed to generate enough power to charge a cellphone, the inefficiency, the enormous wall sized arrays, the receiving sleeves, the cost of infrastructure, regulatory barriers, safety implications, innevitable litigation over fillings falling out etc.

It's a complete load of impractical bollocks, and yet another wakeup call (in case they needed one) that the VC industry needs to wake up and stop mis-selling this sort of crap to uneducated investors due to sheer negligence, deliberate or otherwise, on the VCs' part.

Howard Long

Re: Possible .NE. Practical

This ^

It is indeed difficult to differentiate the entire tech VC market from a pyramid, Ponzi or straight scam.

The sheer lack of quality due diligence is shocking. When you hear of the supposed VC experts who, after a fifteen minute meeting send in their "expert advisors" to due a half hour due diligence, and generate $24m in investment off the back of it it is truly shocking.

Worse, Mark Suster, who's on the board of uBeam and whose outfit Upfront Ventures invested $10m wrote a nlog about how let down he feels, and how difficult if is when you've been shouted out, sorry, hoist by your own petard, oops, no, I mean shafted by the very press who drank you koolaid


Even more shocking is when Techcrunch, whose founders have their own investment links with uBeam, and who've repeatedly bigged-up uBeam, have an article also questioning their own darling.


Not only is it the whole VC tech investment crowd who have questions to answer, it's also the tech press and media who're in bed with them encouraging endless puff pieces (El Reg, I assume, can be excepted in this case, but it is rare to find a journo who doesn't enjoy a freebie in exchange for puffery!)

If we don't see some negligence claims in the near future levelled against the tech VC crowd it'll only be because the SEC have got in there first.

Microsoft to make Xamarin tools and code free and open source

Howard Long

Oops, an expensive and unfortunate mistake for some

Blimey, I'd be royally pissed off if I'd recently forked out a four figure sum for a licence.

Microsoft in 2016: Is there any point asking SatNad what's coming?

Howard Long

Re: Cloud cookoo land

And yes, I can't spell cuckoo. Doh!

Howard Long

Cloud cookoo land

And, as some of us have been stating for a decade, cloud services provided by any company with a US presence will have us.gov in a position to demand access to offshore data on little more than a whim.

Ten years ago we were told we were scaremongering. Apparently not.

'Everywhere I look ... it's bad': HP claims email shows Autonomy CFO panic, pre-buyout

Howard Long

HP & Autonomy, once top quality brands, now in a race to the bottom.

The rot started setting in at HP when they got rid of their quality business divisions like bio and electronic instrumentation (now Agilent, and soon to be split again), and started concentrating on increasingly lower margin IT, particularly culminating in trying their hands in the cut throat cowboy world of IT outsourcing, particularly the purchase of EDS.

As an IT scrote, in various roles in enterprise IT, I've "worked" with both Autonomy (pre buyout) and HP/EDS in various separate roles as a client of each, and they were both as shit as each other when it came to software and IT outsourcing respectively, although the exception has been HP hardware that has been reasonably good. Both say the right words to the people that matter (golf course politics with the bean counters and self-appointed blue-sky thinkers mostly, triples all round) but there's a whole different shitstorm for the scrotes, on both sides of the fence, who have to implement and integrate. You mean you want to implement and integrate? That'll cost more.

If HP failed in Fred Goodwin proportions to cheap out on their due diligence, then they only have themselves to blame. Irrespective, for supposedly bright people, those at board level need to think more about their employer's trust and reputation, and less about something that they and their predecessor screwed up on. Relying on ambulance chasing lawyers has the same reputation (or lack of it) as taking out a payday loan. Unless you're the lawyer or the loan shark, you're going to lose.

To be honest, speaking as a scrote who's worked with them both, they deserve each other. As a bean-counter, you'll be taken for a ride, and not just around the golf course. In the meantime, my HP 8753A network analyser vintage 1983 is still working just fine, and still holds the same value it did when I bought it, thank you. And Autonomy and Big Data? Meh, keep it for the nineteenth and leave it there.

Anonymous develops secure data over ham radio scheme

Howard Long

Re: All very well but..

Very nice too. Unless it's raining or foggy.

Howard Long

Unless I'm very much mistaken...

...thousands and thousands of us were doing this in the late '70s and through to the early '90s, before anyone had heard of "the Internet". We even launched several satellites to help to provide global coverage. It also connected to the internet with the 44.x.x.x subnet. Somewhere(!) I have my own 44 address written down.

Then two things happened. Firstly, it was a victim of its own success, and it pretty much drowned in its own traffic, becoming nigh on unusable, essentially what you'd call an unintended DDoS these days I suppose. Radio by its very nature is fundamentally a broadcast medium, not point-point like most of the traffic, so channel saturation is a big problem: you see this with WiFi for example. Secondly, the Internet came along in the mid '90s with its higher bandwidth, and no pesky end user licensing to contend with.

There's really nothing technologically new here, I'm afraid. Other than they're not bothering with the pesky licensing, and even that's not exactly new either.

Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?

Howard Long

"As long as you use a proper persistence/data access layer with business objects it is easy to swap the storage technology behind it. As your business grows you can then start caching objects and do hybrid approaches (mixing NoSQL/SQL) to increase performance as needed."

Please tell me you're not serious? You'll be using that over-used word "trivial" every sentence next.

Howard Long

Re: Schoolboy errors

Other than reading the article, the blog, and having 38 years behind keyboards, including teleprinters, paper tape, VDUs, mainframes, minis, PCs, Macs, you name it, and the last 27 years programming and admining enterprise databases, you're right, I know fuck all about the problem and I should be weary [sic] of talking about "schoolboy errors".

Sorry bright young thing, I've been there, seen it, and maybe 30 odd years ago I did it too. But I'm better now, as I am sure you will be in the fullness of time, and be fortunate and liberated enough to publish their opinions on a public forum with their real name and not AC or a nom de plume. Good luck with your career, but be careful out there.

Howard Long

Schoolboy errors

Let me guess what the schoolboy errors might've been...

a) A basic misunderstanding of mapping the product requirement to the technology, prolly made by some bright young thing wanting to use the latest technology for bulking out his CV.

b) Dev guys using pathetically small unrepresentative datasets for their unit testing.

c) Common mis-conception by PMs these days that non-functional requirements such as performance are not as important as functional requirements.

Zuck: Web drones, not balloons (cough, cough Google) are way forward

Howard Long

Speaking as both a pilot and a satcom RF engineer, pigs will fly better.

Technologically it's questionable how this can reasonably work, let alone the regulatory hurdles that'll need addressing. Just how much bandwidth is each individual going to get from these flying WiFi routers?

Pie in the sky, little more than a Facebook marketing puff piece from the pimply faced social media boy wonder.

Confirmed: New Microsoft strategy boss advised President Clinton, ex-UK PM Blair

Howard Long

"We need to drive clarity, alignment and intensity across all our work"

FFS. That is all.

Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors

Howard Long

Following their epic PR fail, BPT "requested" the BBC to remove the clip. It is referenced by one Ebon Upton on slashdot http://m.slashdot.org/story/197343

Original copy was here, now 404's. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25886961

Ebon Upton took a screen shot prior to the full take-down, now hosted on his OH's site: http://www.gastronomydomine.com/bletchley.png

Luckily the BBC footage survives on Youtube, although who knows for how long bearing in mind the efforts already used by BPT to gag the Beeb?

BPT also received money from Google, but i am sure Google will be scratching their heads as to why now.

The chain link fence erected by BPT is as pathetic as it is a waste of donors' money. I'd love them to explain the justification of that to the Lottery Heritage fund.

Tip for BPT: work together, not against each other. The sum is far greater than the parts.


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