* Posts by pdh

116 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Mar 2014


Elon is the bakery owner swearing in the street about Yelp critics canceling him


We just can't take our eyes off of him, can we?

Six pack of sub-Neptune exoplanets hang tight around nearby star


How do they know

How do they know that this isn't just the last in a string of different configurations? I understand that this arrangement could persist indefinitely, but isn't it possible that there were other planets and / or that these six had different orbits in the past, before they settled into this particular resonant configuration?

AI threatens to automate away the clergy


There's more to it

There's a general impression that clergy's main activities are writing and delivering sermons, and leading weekly worship services. I know a few members of that profession, and they all seem to spend much more time on other things that AI probably can't (yet) do well. For example, weekly visits to elderly shut-ins and others who can't physically make it to church on Sunday; visits to members who are in hospital; general counseling; officiating at weddings and funerals; and church property management (calling the plumber when a pipe leaks, arranging for the lawn to be mowed and the parking lot snow to be plowed, etc).

Google Drive misplaces months' worth of customer files


Re: Rather the other way round

"There is a significant probability that they're less safe"

To be fair, there are people who take worse care of their data than the average cloud provider does. For those people, cloud storage may be beneficial -- not because it's perfectly safe (it isn't) but because it's better than what they're willing and able to do on their own.

Vanishing power feeds, UPS batteries, failover fails... Cloudflare explains that two-day outage



"We had never tested fully taking the entire PDX-04 facility offline."

Sure you did -- just a couple of days ago.

'Recession-resilient' Tesla misses Q3 expectations, slows Mexico expansion


Indeed. I remember reading a few years ago that GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corp, now re-branded as Ally) was responsible for essentially all of GM's profits over a multi-year timeframe. They broke even on the cars and trucks, and made their money from the loans. From a financial perspective, the only reason they built cars and trucks at all was to generate loans.

Amazon unveils new drone design, plans liftoff of aerial delivery in UK, Italy


> I'm suprised amazon has to abide by airspace rules... no other rules seem to apply to them.

No, that's Twitter...

Tesla goons will buy anything – including these $150 beers


Next milestone: someone talking about something they did in the past, saying that they posted about it on Twitter (as X used to be called).

EPA flushes water supply cybersecurity rule after losing legal fight with industry, states


Re: Ah, the land of the best Justice money can buy

So what's next? OSHA decides to regulate cybersecurity for electric utilities, the Department of Transportation decides to regulate drug companies, and the Post Office regulates natural gas suppliers?

I completely agree that critical infrastructure needs to be protected and should be subject to cybersecurity regulations. But those regulations should be drawn up by an agency that actually has expertise in that area, under the authority of proper Congressional legislation. The issue here isn't "backward states reject obviously necessary regulations," but "Congress fails to enact necessary legislation."


Re: Ah, the land of the best Justice money can buy

That's not the point. The EPA has responsibility for making certain types of regulations. Cybersecurity regulations for water facilities is not one of them. Do you really think that EPA is competent to make or evaluate those kinds of rules?

SCREAM resonates in the race for the Gordon Bell Climate Prize



"This includes high-resolution simulations capable of accurately representing large convective circulations and other vital atmospheric events, honing in on certain levels of accuracy missing in existing big climate models."

I wonder how they validated the accuracy of this model? Does anyone know? The article talks about improved performance, but I didn't notice anything about validation of its results.

Apple's iPhone 12 woes spread as Belgium, Germany, Netherlands weigh in


So a question from the other side of the pond... I'm mildly surprised that individual nations are involved. I would have expected EU-wide regulations for things like this, rather than separate investigations and edicts from separate countries. Is this not an area that the EU regulates?

antiX 23: Anarchic for sure, but 'design by committee' isn't always the best for Linux


Re: The sytemd-free ecology

I just google'd "Best Linux distribution for beginners." The top of the response page is a table of 9 distros, with a tag at the bottom saying "15 more." Many non-enthusiasts will find that to be daunting.

Don't shoot! DARPA wants to capture future spy balloons in one piece


Re: By announcing it they have made it irrelevant

Unless of course they already have a suitable technique for capturing these kinds of things, and are trying to bait rivals into sending more balloons sooner rather than later... i.e. this announcement could be a ploy to convince rivals that no such capability currently exists.

Cyber-extortionists pillage Colorado education dept


Re: Demanding money from a US school?

Schools may not have unlimited funds, but they generally have insurance. A couple of years ago there was a ransomware attack against a school district near where I live (in the US). The district's insurance company paid over $50,000 "to settle the matter." Local news said the school district had to pay a deductible (something like $20,000) and the insurance company paid the rest.

No word in local media as to how much the district's insurance premium increased the following year...

Tesla hackers turn to voltage glitching to unlock paywalled features


Re: Not persistent, so not a problem

Additional battery capacity is a software switch too, isn't it? So if you don't pay for that switch, then you have a bunch of battery cells sitting there unused -- adding weight to the vehicle and wasting the (somewhat scarce) resources that were used to manufacture the unused batteries.

Up to 40% of all Arm servers are deployed in China


Compared to what?

OK, so "up to" 40% of the world's ARM servers are deployed in China. For comparison, and leaving aside the vagueness of the "up to" part... what percentage of *all* servers in the world are deployed in China?

Twitter name and blue bird logo to be 'blowtorched' off company branding


Re: ex-twitter

There's a short story by Edgar Allan Poe called "X-ing a Paragrab." The crucial "paragrab" is this:

Sx hx, Jxhn! hxw nxw? Txld yxu sx, yxu knxw. Dxn’t crxw, anxther time, befxre yxu’re xut xf the wxxds! Dxes yxur mxther knxw yxu’re xut? Xh, nx, nx! sx gx hxme at xnce, nxw, Jxhn, tx yxur xdixus xld wxxds xf Cxncxrd! Gx hxme tx yxur wxxds, xld xwl, — gx! Yxu wxnt? Xh, pxh, pxh, Jxhn, dxn’t dx sx! Yxu’ve gxt tx gx, yxu knxw! sx gx at xnce, and dxn’t gx slxw; fxr nxbxdy xwns yxu here, yxu knxw. Xh, Jxhn, Jxhn, if yxu dxn’t gx yxu’re nx hxmx — nx! Yxu’re xnly a fxwl, an xwl; a cxw, a sxw; a dxll, a pxll; a pxxr xld gxxd-fxr-nxthing-tx-nxbxdy lxg, dxg, hxg, xr frxg, cxme xut xf a Cxncxrd bxg. Cxxl, nxw — cxxl! Dx be cxxl, yxu fxxl! Nxne xf yxur crxwing, xld cxck! Dxn’t frxwn sx — dxn’t! Dxn’t hxllx, nxr hxwl, nxr grxwl, nxr bxw-wxw-wxw! Gxxd Lxrd, Jxhn, hxw yxu dx lxxk! Txld yxu sx, yxu knxw, but stxp rxlling yxur gxxse xf an xld pxll abxut sx, and gx and drxwn yxur sxrrxws in a bxwl!

Dude was ahead of this time.


Doing his work for him

CEO Yaccarino: "Let me get this straight, Elon... you're going to re-brand us. How are we going to publicize that? The cost will be enormous."

Musk: "I'll take care of it. Without paying a cent."

And it's working...

Someone just blew over $190k on a 4GB first-gen iPhone


Might actually make some sense as an investment, as long as the Greater Fool machinery continues to operate...

Ex-Twitter employees owed half a billion in severance, says lawsuit


Re: A Twitter lawsuit database

There's a wikipedia page for "Google litigation" at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_litigation but oddly, I don't see anything similar for Twitter.

Obscure internet boutique Amazon sues EU for calling it a Very Large Online Platform



Something does seem amiss if the VLOP designation applies to Amazon but not to the "other large EU retailers" that Amazon mentions.... it seems likely that those large EU retailers could easily reach 10% of the EU population too, doesn't it?

Should leaders place bets on new PCs or generative AI?


AI is certainly something that most companies will want to keep an eye on, in case it ever evolves into something useful. But I really doubt that many companies are planning large-scale production projects based on LLM's or generative AI.

China chip material export controls just the tip of the iceberg, warns official


Re: Obvious or not?

What you said. Don't confuse "Country A is currently the main supplier of X" with "Country A is the only possible volume supplier of X."

Metaverses are flopping – hard – says Gartner


Re: Noooo! Reeeally? Who would've seen that coming.

> OK, they could have the manuals in the van, or know a few models, but the AR headset could contain details for thousands of models.

Or they could have a tablet or laptop computer with thousands of manuals in PDF form.

Time running out for crew of missing Titanic tourist submarine


Re: Transponder

> Besides, the company themselves are unlikely to be absolute idiots. They are going to risk assess and mitigate risks as best they can to ensure their business has a future.

Not to mention -- their CEO was onboard. That has to be interpreted as a strong vote of confidence on his part; you'd think he would know if the craft was dodgy.

Where are we now, Microsoft 362.5? Europe reports outages


Yes, exactly. In my many years of experience with on-prem systems, I never saw a single one that could boast of 100% reliability over any medium or long term timeframe. But when ABC Co's internal network goes down, they don't post the details on a public status page like cloud providers do, and their employees don't take to Twiitter to bash the IT department. I'm certainly not suggesting the cloud is always better than on-prem -- it is not -- but I bet that the major cloud providers' overall uptime is way better than almost all on-prem facilities.

AI promises vendors 15 minutes of fame with investors


We've seen this before

This reminds me of the situation a few years ago where companies would re-brand themselves by adding "Blockchain" to their names. I seem to remember that a few of them saw huge surges in market valuation after doing that, even if they had no blockchain expertise at all, nor any specific plan to use it.

How do you boost server efficiency? Buy new kit, keep it busy


Re: Efficient in what way?

Definitely need to consider the energy and other resources needed to build those new servers. I've read claims that for automobiles, about 60% of the total lifetime energy cost occurs during manufacturing. So if you want to reduce your total resource consumption, then you may be better off keeping your older vehicle on the road, even if it has relatively poor fuel efficiency, as opposed to buying a new one. I wonder what the breakdown is for servers: i.e. what percentage of the necessary energy and etc is expended during manufacture, during useful life, and during disposal.

Will Flatpak and Snap replace desktop Linux native apps?


Re: Lucky you.

YES! For many of us, one of the attractions of Linux is that it runs well on older machines where Windows won't run. I am typing this on a 2015 Lenovo W500 that I inherited when my wife tried to move from Windows 7 to Windows 10 but found it unusably slow. And this is not my oldest Linux laptop.

Scientists think they may have cracked life support for Martian occupation



Not boffins? Has there been a change in El Reg's style guide?

Cry-pto: Feds bury Bitcoin exchange giant Binance in 13-count fraud lawsuit


Another one bites the dust

Ever since Mt Gox ten years ago, it seems like whoever is "the world's largest crypto exchange," isn't able to retain that title for more than a year or so. Has anyone been keeping close enough track to know what the longevity record is?

Windows XP's adventures in the afterlife shows copyright's copywrongs


Re: Make like trademarks, not patents or copyright?

If they still offer support, then I'd say it's not abandoned, but I'd include bug fixes as part of "support." I wouldn't want to penalize the publisher of a small app that "just works" without any ongoing changes (if there ever was such a thing), but I'd insist that there should still be a working support line and that the publisher still stands ready to fix any significant bug or security vulnerability that might pop up.


Make like trademarks, not patents or copyright?

The U.S. trademark system includes a rule saying that you lose rights to a trademark if you don't use it for a period of time -- 3 consecutive years I think. Maybe that's a better model than patents or copyrights? If a publisher continues to distribute and support the software, then they retain their rights indefinitely. But once they abandon it, it automatically moves into the public domain.

Microsoft Windows latest: Cortana app out, adverts in


A related problem: recently I was searching for men's cargo pants in a particular tall size. After just one Google search (which did not pan out), I started seeing ads for cargo pants -- from companies who don't make them in tall sizes. And ads from big and tall retailers, who focus on "big" not "tall." And from companies that sell women's clothing in tall sizes. And so on; many ads but none that were of any value to me.

The ads might not be quite so bad if they were tailored to things that I'm actually looking for, but they hardly ever are.


Re: Microsoft Still Up to the Usual Antics

Well, the Windows EULA says explicitly "The software is licensed, not sold." You've paid for the right to use the OS, but you don't own it.


Re: Microsoft Still Up to the Usual Antics

"you are going about your business... and Microsoft deign it acceptable to distract your workflow with adverts"

I don't like ads any more than anyone else, but that's how ads work on the radio, on TV, in magazines, on billboards, etc., right? You're listening to music on the radio, or watching something on TV, or reading a magazine article, and every now and then an ad interrupts the music or the story or the sporting event. Why would you expect the online experience to be any different?

NASA experts looked through 800 UFO sightings and found essentially nothing



How exactly does one become an expert on UFOs / UAPs? I have to wonder whenever I see someone described as a bigfoot expert, or an expert on the Loch Ness monster, etc.

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


Re: Just fucking die twitter

Definitely some media organizations still use it. I follow sports on a big-name website, and whenever they have an article about somebody making a great golf shot, or hitting a home run, or scoring a touchdown, the article is sure to include a link to a short video clip onTwitter. That's my only use of Twitter (I don't have an account but sometimes I want to see the home run flying out of the park) and I have noticed no change whatsoever in the last nine months.

Nearly 1 in 5 academics admit close encounters of the anomalous kind


Re: Sigh


Electric two-wheelers are set to scoot past EVs in road race


Re: What do these give you that an electric bicycle does not?

Dual disk brakes are common on eBikes; they're capable of very very quick stops. And eBikes are much lighter than these eMotorcycles so stopping requires less force.


What do these give you that an electric bicycle does not?

Better acceleration for sure, and maybe more storage (bigger saddlebags). And higher top speed, but that may not be relevant in a dense urban environment -- electric bicycles that I've seen typically top out between 25 and 30 mph, which may be fast enough in the city. So really just better acceleration, right? Am I missing anything else?

Elon Musk finally finds 'someone foolish enough to take the job' of Twitter CEO


Do you people really think she's that naive?

Reading some of these comments, it sounds like the general opinion is that clever old Elon is leading this innocent little lamb to slaughter. Is that really likely?

I mean: one has to assume that she'll be making very good money -- it seems unlikely that a "hard-nosed negotiator" would be taking her entire salary in stock options. As for her future prospects... suppose Twitter goes down in flames, as seems likely. Nobody whose initials are not EM will blame her for the failure, and in her next job interview, it will be "Well, yeah, Twitter failed, but not because of me. It was... you know..." And if by some miracle Twitter survives and perhaps even morphs into X, she'll not only become very rich, but she'll be able to write her own ticket anywhere else that she chooses to go.

To me, it almost looks like a can't-lose scenario for her. She's not the desperate one here, and based on the (admittedly small amount of) information we have about her, it doesn't sound like she's a pushover. I don't think Twitter is likely to succeed long-term, but success or failure, as long as she acts with a bare minimum of integrity, I suspect she'll come out OK.

Amazon CEO says AWS staff now spending ‘much of their time’ optimizing customers’ clouds


This surprised me

"about 90% of Global IT spending still on-premises "

That's much higher than I would have guessed. Does anyone here know if that's really true, and if so, what sorts of enterprises are still mostly on-prem?

When will regulators get serious on datacenter emissions reporting?


How to lie with statistics

Much depends on how you choose the starting point for your temperature graph.



Russia has a stash of scary malware? We're shocked


Re: Talk about non news.

Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems

India-based cybergang busted for selling fake KFC franchises


Read somewhere but I forget the source: "People in funny hats have been a menace throughout the ages."

Critical infrastructure gear is full of flaws, but hey, at least it's certified


Re: ALL of it

So why aren't there more high-impact attacks? That's meant as a serious question, not as snark. Some ideas that come to mind (maybe the true reason is a mix of all of these):

(a) It's not really as bad as it seems to security specialists. I mean, a fitness expert looks at the population of a modern industrial state and sees mostly overweight people who eat badly and get almost no exercise; the expert believes this is deadly but somehow most of these people manage to live fairly long, contented lives, despite the fact that they're doing almost everything wrong. Is something similar happening with respect to computer systems security?

(b.1) That which cannot be said in polite society: sometimes security by obscurity works "well enough," especially if (as I suspect is often the case) it's only one aspect of a multi-faceted security strategy.

(b.2) Sure, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, but maybe there are other links acting in parallel to the weaker links; so maybe the fact that some aspects of your security strategy are crap, doesn't actually mean that the total system is easy to penetrate.

(c) The Bad Guys are not very competent, or not very motivated, or there just aren't that many of them.

(d) There are in fact a good number of successful attacks, but most of them are not made public (e.g. ransomware payoffs where the criminals do restore access after being paid off). Also perhaps targets are deliberately chosen so as not to yield catastrophe. (Do *not* be the one who hacks Colonial Pipeline or similar targets.)

(e) It takes a fairly long time to successfully hack an average system, even though average systems have plenty of security holes, and this limits the overall number of successful hacks.

I am in no way dismissing the legitimate security concerns that are raised almost constantly these days. I just wonder why, if things are so bad, there aren't more truly high-profile failures.

Student satellite demonstrates drag sail to de-orbit old hardware


Yeah, I'd like to know more too. I've seen a number of articles about it, and they all mention the drag sail, the Arduino, and the AA batteries, but no additional details. I gather it was supposed to act as a repeater, accessible by hams, but that part evidently didn't work out.

Hubble images photobombed by space hardware on the up


It's all relative

... to the number of satellites, no? The total worldwide number of satellite launches per year has grown by a factor of 10 or more in the last decade. It's kind of surprising that the number of photobombs has only doubled.