* Posts by Justthefacts

1009 publicly visible posts • joined 22 May 2014


ESA gets the job of building Europe's secure satcomms network

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Re: "relying on disruptive technologies like quantum encryption"

Quantum encryption doesn’t rely on quantum computing. It’s just a way of using a particular property of photons (entanglement) to ensure that interception is physically impossible, because any interception causes loss of entanglement, and the information in transit is irretrievably corrupted. It’s anti-intercept, not actually *encryption* at all.

“Quantum encryption” doesn’t require satellites, nor is it even particularly difficult. Most first-year physics undergrads have both the knowledge and access to equipment which can demo this on tabletop. Producing entangled photons just requires coherent parametric downconversion from any one of half a dozen nonlinear crystals, easily available.

The effect can be shown to work over optical fibre, and indeed has been shown commercially up to 1000km. This just isn’t something you can be a “world leader” in, it’s far too basic.

It also, unfortunately, isn’t that *useful*. That’s why it isn’t widely deployed, not because countries don’t know how. The supposed reason why it might be wanted, is that in principle quantum computers might break current (standard) encryption. But if that happens, we’d just transition to different already-known NIST encryption options. It’s only a couple of encryption algorithms that would be vulnerable to quantum computers even if they existed (RSA basically, not even AES).

So, there just isn’t that much point in making non-interceptable comms at high cost. Unless of course, doing it at high cost is actually the intended outcome.

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

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Re: "The timing is also unfortunate for the company ...

“Not obliged”?

So, 27 out of 27 countries all realised they were “not obliged”, and just all happened to follow the same logic on what was clearly a difficult judgement call? You are deluded. They all had to follow Commission, because you have to do what the Capo says. The “or else” is never specified. It doesn’t have to be.

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Re: "The timing is also unfortunate for the company ...

Everything you say is true (that AZ was risky, that risk was v low and accepted, it saved huge numbers of lives, but when something of even lower risk comes along of course you take it).

But your conclusion is false: “ vaccination as a political benefit of brexit”. Vaccination *was* a political benefit of Brexit. Brexit *directly* saved a couple hundred thousand lives in the U.K., for several reasons you have already partly outlined.

#1 The disparity between U.K. and EU rollout of AZ and BioNTech was neither random dice, nor political football. With AZ vaccine, the U.K. government went into the initial negotiation (remember six months before anyone knew if it might work or not) with the brief “this might save U.K. lives, as elected politicians we must not be held responsible for the smallest delay of getting this to our citizens, this deal must be done, now, whatever the cost. Pay for expanded capacity if needed”. The EU negotiator went into the negotiation with the brief “ensure you get a good financial deal for EU citizens. And ensure that any expanded capacity is on EU sovereign soil.”

The consequences were *exactly* as one would expect: Commission arguing over the price delayed EU signing by three months…..and therefore delayed EU access to final vaccine capacity by three months. How could it be reasonable otherwise? The point is, no *elected* politician could possibly have prioritised cost over speed at barely 20 euros per person. This isn’t about being British, Macron would not have done this, nor would Merkel, nor any other country Prime Minister. No directly elected government would ever have made such a catastrophic error of judgement.

#2 Commission insisted on factory on Belgian soil. AZ doesn’t *have* such a factory, and still doesn’t. AZ did a tech transfer to Belgian company, with full support, at EU only request This is not the best engineering solution. *Of course* standing up a new non-vaccine factory to make vaccines with inexperienced staff, was going to take an extra four months. Four months delay is blisteringly fast actually. It’s a tribute to all the people directly responsible that it happened. But that four months delay was there *because the EU negotiator asked for it*, and no other reason. The EU *could* have agreed to simply double funding at the existing U.K. plants, in September 2020, as AZ had suggested, but the EU refused that.

This was a catastrophic error of judgement. Do you honestly think Merkel would have done this? “Build it on EU soil, or we won’t buy your life-saving vaccine”? It’s mental. Totally mental. Only a career bureaucrat could think that was a hill worth dying on.

#3 When the delay at AZ Belgian subcontractor became apparent, AZ proposed a valid solution. They proposed to ship vaccines from their *Indian* subcontractor. EU simply refused to accept vaccines made at the India plant. It’s difficult to see this as anything other than pure racism. The Commission literally wrote, in black and white, that they couldn’t accept vaccines from a plant that they hadn’t assessed the cleanliness of. Despite the facts that: a) India is actually the largest producer of vaccines in the world and has a lot of experience b) The EU did *not* inspect either the Belgium plant, nor the U.K. plant they said they wanted it from c) The EU has no technical competence in medicines manufacture inspection. This was pure racism, and cost a lot of European lives by delay. We can debate the ethics as to whether they should have wanted to take vaccines away from Indian people anyway, but that wasn’t their declared reason. The declared reason was that Indians were unhygienic. You cannot get away from that fact.

#4 The European Medicines Agency took the “precautionary principle”. This added another two month delay to the EU rollout. This is a very European *attitude*. It’s embedded throughout European culture, which is fundamentally bureaucratic. And sometimes it’s valid and good. This was not such a time. Brexit gave the U.K. the freedom to decide when the lives of our citizens were worth more than an arse-covering precautionary principle, and *we took it*.

The net-out of the European Commissions failings was *over half a million European extra dead*. Compared to well under a hundred UK dead due to cardiovascular issues in the under-thirties. The U.K. government has its own failings, relating to care homes and PPE that cost our extra hundred thousand dead, we cannot hide from that. But the Commission directly caused a vaccine catastrophe in EU that cannot be hidden.

Justthefacts Silver badge

Re: TLDR; phantom issue

I agree with that. Also, you can hardly quote “Band X support”, if you know that any jurisdiction in the world where band X gets licensed in future, the SAR would fail. That’s a failure of thinking. But anyway, with compliance “Rules is Rules”, and the protocol was known. Apple’s compliance team should have figured this out anyway years ago when it was released, and done it then.

What I don’t quite understand is how this got blown up, and which side is responsible for the blow-up. Did France’s regulator go nuclear, without bother to check first whether Apple were happy to fix? Because clearly Apple were capable of doing it, quickly, with no great problem. This should have been handled at purely technical level, without escalation beyond responsible engineering teams. Or were Apple pointlessly stubborn when contacted, and had to be threatened to get them to take it seriously? Who knows. But I do reckon this is likely to just go away.

If I’m wrong about the cause, Apple are totally screwed because it will fail in the US too, and then all hell will break loose. But also, if it has genuinely been emitting over-SAR for customers, then basically every iPhone 12 customer who gets cancer will sue and win, because Apple can’t prove it wasn’t, even if it wasn’t.

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Re: O no

As posted above: the phone is capable of transmitting on many frequency bands, SAR depends on band.

The French protocol probably requires to conform on all the bands the phone is *capable* of. But many of these bands aren’t licensed in particular countries. The phone only uses a particular band if there is an operator on that band.

The conformance violation is probably on a band not actually licensed in France. In the UK and US, we only check on bands that are licensed in our country because….otherwise the phone can’t use it anyway.

The software fix will be to stop searching (and transmitting) on the unlicensed band, even if “the operator” supports it. Job Done.

Justthefacts Silver badge

TLDR; phantom issue

The US regulation is tighter than the EU, significantly so. Not just that the limit is lower (1.6 US FCC versus 2.0).

But also that the US measures their limit on the worst case 1 gram of simulated tissue (roughly 1cm) whereas the EU averages over the worst case 10gram of simulated tissue (roughly 2.3cm). The radiation pattern is very hotspotty on that scale, the US definition is much more stringent than the EU definition.

If it’s failing the EU test, it would fail the US test, which it hasn’t because they will have tested.

What’s much more likely, is that the SAR varies on frequency band, due to frequency-dependence of conductivity of human body. Frequency bands up to 3.8GHz are defined by 3GPP (and supported by iPhone) but not *licensed* in particular territories, and therefore not used.

I strongly suspect the violation is limited to a high bands that is defined but not actually used. I suspect that France certify on the basis of the device *capability* - phone can do it if the operator mast requested, even if there are legally no operators licensed in that band. Whereas the US, UK, most territories, certify on the basis of only the bands licensed in this country.

That would mean, the French and Dutch tests “fail”, others “pass”, even though the phone never transmits on those bands when used by customers. This makes sense of another weird fact: that Apple claim they can fix this with a trivial software update. This would be impossible if it is determined by physics and antenna placement. You can’t just turn the transmission power down, because being able to transmit at maximum power +23dBm is part of the 3GPP conformance tests for 4G.

But what you *can* do is just disable the phone capability in the higher band, with a single line in a config file. Since there aren’t actually any operators licensed in that band, it doesn’t affect customers. I think this is a box-ticking non-issue, has never caused any excessive power transmission in actual use, and is trivially fixable.

Unity closes offices, cancels town hall after threat in wake of runtime fee restructure

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Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

How does *the game developer* know that, anyway? Unless, you’ve decided that you don’t care, because you’ve given it away for free.

In that case, the game devs business model is either advertising (ZOMG Privacy Apocalypse), or Microtransactions (ZZOMGG card data stored forever, Privacy Zombie Apocalypse). Both those charging models can die, for all I care. If it’s neither, then it’s a hobby, and while that’s lovely for you, you aren’t actually a customer because you aren’t giving them any money)

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Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predict

Lunacy? Why?

“Implying they’ve solved the problem with privacy”. What problem? Sorry, I genuinely don’t understand. In the wider world, people buy stuff online, with either debit cards or PayPal, and that’s the end of the matter. What’s so special about games?

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Re: Damn!

I have no skin in this game, but…

Isn’t the more obvious solution for game developers to change their model to charging for downloading the game? Instead of Freemium and Microtransaction bollox? You know, like it used to be? Then, their charging model matches Unity, solves the problem. Surely charging £2 for a game, and paying $0.10 for the the engine that underlies it, “just works” as a business model.

The problem developers have is getting a million downloads, but only 1% of its players want to pay £5 for premium content. That’s the budget which doesn’t close, if developers are paying per download. If nobody wants to pay £2 for your amazing game, isn’t that the underlying problem….too many me-too’s that aren’t actually different enough to be interesting?

I’m sure the developers are going to say “yeah, but games are expected to be free, this is the universe we live in”. And for any individual dev, that’s true. But Unity are big enough to change this attitude. Maybe.

Arm IPO kicks off today with CPU slinger valued at $54.5B

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Re: British chip designer to trade on Nasdaq only

5% of ARM floated on Nasdaq. Another 5% was pre-hoovered by NVidia, Microsoft et al. 90% is still owned by SoftBank.

$5.4bn doesn’t even begin to cover the $15bn that SoftBank paid to the Saudi wealth fund for 25% of the company. It seems that none of this was the actual purpose of the IPO. The whole circus was just intended to *set a price* for ARM, and convince SoftBank shareholders that there is really any value at all in SoftBank.

ARM is still far from a public company.

IBM Software tells workers: Get back to the office three days a week

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Re: Where are the facts & figures to support a return to the office ?


5 straight quarters of productivity decline, which has essentially never happened since 1948. This is not a normal recession. It’s not WFH…..yeah. It’s WFH.

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Re: Where are the facts & figures to support a return to the office ?

Yes, that was an earlier paper, and made very famous by the WFH advocates. They authors have now retracted it

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Re: Where are the facts & figures to support a return to the office ?

Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy and Research, huh what do they know?

“Fully remote work is associated with 10% to 20% lower productivity than fully in-person work.”


Hybrid is best, according to the data: “thehighest paid group on average accounts for nearly 30% of employees. They typically work from home 2 or 3 days a week and commute to business premises the rest of the week.”

“The third group of employees work fully remotely. They tend to work in IT-support, call-center, payroll, HR, or benefits jobs that require more limited interaction. These jobs are mostly computer based, often involving mostly individual tasks, and usually easily monitored. We expect the number of fully remote jobs to continue declining in the longer term. [These] will relocate overseas as firms exploit lower labor costs in countries like Mexico, India, and the Philippines. Other jobs may be automated by artificial intelligence, which increasingly can perform routine tasks in HR, payroll, and call center positions.”

Power grids tremble as electric vehicle growth set to accelerate 19% next year

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Re: For many of us, hybrids make more sense than BEVs

Actually easier than all the faff of colouring diesel. Keep and show your receipts. It’s mandatory to have your car MOT’d, which means they know your annual mileage. Therefore, they know roughly what the annual kWh used is, much closer than petrol because of regenerative.You either purchased the electricity on-the-road (petrol stations all have your number plate logged by ANPR, and so will the charger network), or you got it somewhere else. Everything I’ve said is already available centrally to the MOT and HMRC, fully automated.

There’s literally nothing to prevent them running a simple server calculation at MOT to figure out if you’re getting un-metered electricity anywhere.

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Re: Cost of refining oil

“The feed-in tariff is crap”

FITs always belonged in the seventh circle of moronic Hell. Not because renewables themselves are intrinsically uneconomic. But because *retail renewables* are inevitably and fundamentally always less economic than *wholesale renewables* at the exact instant when they might ever be called upon.

The exact time when power companies might need to find power from elsewhere, the *one* time when it would be worth a high price is when there is neither wind nor sun. Because the power companies have access to wholesale solar farms too. So when it is very sunny, they don’t need any extra and won’t pay for it. But when it is not sunny…..you don’t have any to sell.

Ditto exactly for Wind. In the minority of the time that it is very Windy, wholesale Wind providers are saturating the power grid with cheap power. The grid really really does not want your shitty 15kW installation coming along and begging to “sell” them power, at the instant they are sending messages to all their actual providers paying them money to *stop* sending power.

UK rejoins the EU's €100B Horizon sci-tech funding program

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Stock market equivalence?

You mean, exactly like the EUs foot-meet-shotgun with Switzerland’s stock market equivalence?

EU insisted on Enforcing the Agreement in 2019. Switzerland was surprised….but Ok. The result was that all share-dealing in Swiss companies was immediately repatriated to Switzerland’s stock exchange SIX. This catapulted SIX to Europe’s fourth biggest stock exchange, from #7, after Euronext, London and Deutsche. Literally overnight. Arguably Euronext is just an umbrella organisation so SIX is #3 (that’s the Swiss version of this)



The biggest problem SIX had, was that their transaction volume shot through the roof so they really struggled to handle it technically. Is that the sort of EU rule-following you had in mind?

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Re: Indeed

Labour is pro-Brexit. Starmer isn’t, but he isn’t the party.

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Re: Indeed

I am very well versed in how both research and development gets done, over decades. “That's how science gets done - international collaboration.” True, but that’s a distraction burglary.

Research does require collaboration, between centres of excellence. Centres of excellence can be in California, Moscow, Delhi, Lausanne, Paris, doesn’t matter. Collaboration does not, in itself, require funding. There is no requirement, or use, for a collaboration gatekeeper. And *definitely* not one that restricts you to just 27 countries.

The researchers at a genuine centre of excellence come from all over the world. That’s how you know it is a centre of excellence. If your researchers are all European, for example, *you do not work at a centre of excellence*. You work at a possibly-useful-or-not workhorse. Sorry, just telling it how it is.

Aspect (1982) is one of the reasons I get angry about this, it’s pure gaslighting by the EU. Any physicist will know that date automatically. It’s like Einstein 1905, or Michelson-Morley 1887. You just can’t not know. For the EU Commission to claim that Aspect (1982) was enabled by EU funding starting in 1984 is Orwellian. It’s forcing scientists to agree publically things they know not to be true, to maintain their funding. It is *not* an accidental mistake. It is identical ethic to the Lords Army forcing its child soldiers into cannibalism of their enemies - once they partake, they are committed, because they become unacceptable outside the tribe. No researcher from CalTech would talk to you once you say this, they will lose your email address. Without scientific honesty we are nothing.

I’ve no idea why you think I would be unaware of CERNs seminal role in this, or in many important discoveries. I am not opposed to CERN. CERN is not the EU Commission. In fact, CERN is yet another European institution which is undermined by the Commission. Not only does U.K. contribute to CERN, so do USA and Japan. But slowly, stealthily, corruptly, the EU Commission has been shifting span of control away from CERN and Euratom (an independent body) into Commission DG Energy. Line item by line item. Did you never ask yourself how it was that European fusion research became a football in Brexit? It shouldn’t be intrinsically…..ITER is an EU Commission project, hence part of the EU hegemony. But…..Joint European Torus wasn’t. JET was funded by Euratom. Euratom is a *separate* treaty organisation. Why exactly has one of the most fundamental R&D projects moved from the control of the one treaty org which was established to do exactly that, to another? It’s a coup. A slow-rolling coup. Just like Commission taking over the vast majority of the effective control of space policy from…European Space Agency. The clue is in the name.

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Re: Indeed

Three things:

#1 The Tories indeed soon will be out on their arses for many reasons.

#2 The effective time-window for Nobel prizes does not pre-date Horizon’s predecessors. Framework Programme started in 1984. Nobel prizes for 2022: Bertozzi et al (Click Chemistry) work done in 1999+; Paabo et al (Neanderthal genome) work in 1997+; Aspect et al (Bell inequality) famous paper in 1982. Ironically, the one that the EU officially claim credit for is Aspect, which as you say the dates conclusively prove their lies.

#3 Counting Nobels *is* a stupid metric. The conventional academic metric is H-index….which the EU have explicitly chosen not to report as a KPI of the program because they rank so poorly. It was the EU who chose Nobels to put out puff pieces about, not me, and then they simply exaggerated and fabricated the truth to make it look good. On the well-accepted H-index, the benchmark varies by field. In my field, physics, an H-index of around 60-ish is considered average researcher, range maybe 40-80.

To give a feeling for the magnitude of the negative impact of EU funding on the quality research, let’s look at a controlled experiment. Novoselov and Geim discovered Graphene, and won a Nobel prize for it. So there can be no doubt as to either the skills of the researchers, or the importance of the field. The original research was done at Manchester, under EPSRC funding, EU not involved. Take the same people, same subject, and give them one billion euros under the EU Graphene FET (flagship project). What’s the output been? H-index of the project is 40. I’ll say that again: Nobel prize researchers, in the hottest research topic, given a billion euros to play with, achieve a industry-accepted KPI that is right at the bottom of normal range.

There’s been a lot of papers, and some of them good, as you would expect. But then, they’ve have had a lot of funding. The actual average research quality per paper is *poor*.

Justthefacts Silver badge


It’s a great shame. Being in Horizon is not in our national interest, and a waste of our taxpayers money. We would be far better spending the same money on our own university R&D directly, without the incompetent middleman mis-directing the research.

However, Sunak is our prime minister, democratically elected, and entitled to act as he sees fit. And we, the electorate, are entitled to act as *we* see fit, which means he’s going to be out of office in less than 12 months. The electorate is going to punish him for this, and rightly so. Hopefully, in a decade or so time, when all the fuss has died down, some other U.K. prime minister is going to decide to stop the program again. Which we would be entitled to do unilaterally, without begging for permission.

So, b0llchit, please could you give a quick rundown of all the Nobel prizes won by FP and Horizon-funded programs? €15bn annually, thirty years of Framework Programs before Horizon, total spend roughly half a *trillion* euro. Pro rata, compared to other R&D grants, you should be able to name around *forty* Nobels. In fact, there are *zero*. Zero. All there is, is endless lies written by the Commission, like this:


The work that Alain Aspect did to win his Nobel Prize was done in 1982, before any of the Framework Programmes. It was done at ESO Orsay under national French funding. Nothing to do with EU.


Let’s do another random lie-search:


What’s that? They’ve backed 15 Nobels? Really? Which ones? Ah, Novoselov and Geim, for the discovery of graphene at Manchester University. Which was funded by *EPSRC* in 2003. When did the EU get involved? An ERC “starting grant” in 2011, eight years after the groundbreaking work was done. Then the EU funded the Graphene Flagship billion euro project….in 2017. And co-funded the National Graphene Institute….from 2013. In other words, the EU decided to fund the work *once he was already famous*.

That’s just a random example of the lies the EU Commission tell you. Endless, endless lies. You should gain some expertise, in a real science, read the research programmes that are really ongoing, then you would be in a position to judge. Until then, you’re just another gullible idiot taken in by the lies.

Europe's Ariane 6 takes rocket science seriously by testing patience before engines

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Re: Meanwhile…..

There *was* a lot to like about Ariane 5. It was a success, and a great workhorse. The Question is how we should view Ariane 6.

It’s incremental, in a universe where it is a minimum four years too late. Unless half a dozen other programs all fail simultaneously, it may be verging on commercially obsolescent when it does launch. It’s no good saying “yeah but the USA is just as bad”. USA governmentally-captured is no longer the only game in town. China has half a dozen contenders (most of which are vapourware, as usual), but Japan’s H3 is also a gnats nadger from coming on-stream, plus ISRO.

Why is “India has a lower cost basis” a problem, or indeed relevant? Engineering is engineering, if ISRO have the skills to make it work, what should anyone care whether the cost of living is lower there? And salaries aren’t that much lower any more. A Staff Engineer in Bengaluru makes around £50k compared to maybe £65k in the U.K.. Hardly the predatory undercutting it’s being made out.

I am very much looking forward to unfettered commercial exploitation of space. The concern was always that it wasn’t actually viable, that “asteroid mining”, “lunar He3 mining”, “pharmaceutical manifacture” were all just a fig leaf for the enthusiast, paid for by the gullible. And I still believe that, TBH. The killer app will be none of those. But governments seem to have dedicated six decades of funding to prove that they don’t know how to do it. There are very many “investment” schemes here on Earth that are fig leaves for enthusiasts paid for by the gullible - at least this one has unlimited potential social value.

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Ceres-1 launched today, the nineth successive successful launch for Galactic Energy. Commercial launch of four more Tianqi satellites. Galactic Energy only *started* in 2018, first launch in 2020. By next year, they aim to be flying Pallas, their first reusable stack.


Ariane 6 development started back in 2015, based only incrementally on Ariane 5, and still today already 3 years late, have failed to run their first hot-fire test of just 4 seconds in length.

EU Commission need to get out the way with their power-struggle coup that destroyed ESA’s capability to operate effectively, and turned Ariane and Safran into a global embarrassment.

ISRO can land on the moon for $75M, while EU can’t even catch a ride for $1.3bn for their antiquated rover.

Arm wrestles assembly language guru's domains away citing trademark issues

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Re: It's a bloody word in our bloody language!

So, I did a quick trademark search, as per standard


ARM is trademarked in classes 9, 42, 5, 35, 38.

In other words, yes for the obvious categories computer hardware, and CPU designs. But also advertising services provided by internet, provision of business information (35). So that’s probably what did for arm-assembly.com. It’s a blog, and probably has advertising income due to banner ads, and if it infringes on ARM trademark in that domain (which it clearly does), and has any income, said income can be claimed by the trademark owner. ARM don’t have to prove “confusion”, that’s just how trademark law works.

I don’t *like* trademark law, the way it works is stupid, but it is virtually the same in every country. If you start any business with a web domain and fail to check the database before registering your web domain, you’re an idiot. It’s a ten-second job. A perfectly nice idiot, and a decent human being, maybe, but an idiot nevertheless. It’s really the first advice on starting a company any tickbox list is going to tell you to check.

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Re: It's a bloody word in our bloody language!

Out of those, only appleinsider , Applevis , patentlyapple potentially infringe trademark . This is because trademark is defined within a particular domain like “computer equipments” or “restaurants”.

Being a word in the language is irrelevant: plenty of words are trademarked, it depends on context.

Don’t shoot the messenger….that’s just the way UK law works.

US Air Force wants $6B to build 2,000 AI-powered drones

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Re: $5.8 billion

DoD is not the whole of US Defense spending, by any means. For example, military pensions come out of Department of Veterans Affairs, and that’s another $300+ billion. Intelligence is also outwith DoD, and thats another $90bn’ish. Also US nuclear weapons are under Department of Energy, not DoD. There’s a few more dribs and drabs of $30-50bn here and there in various departments.

The US military-industrial complex is mind-bogglingly big.

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Re: $5.8 billion

Mainly, scaleability.

Contrary to headline, $6bn is considered chicken feed for US military. In fact, it rather looks as if the US Air Force is trying to smother this, because they still like Top Gun, with the nice words “but we’re funding it, what more do you want”. Nevertheless, assuming it works and really why shouldn’t it unless there is scope creep, the US would get 2000 new combat aircraft, which would be the worlds third largest airforce as a side salad.

But it’s the scaleability which is the killer. An airforce of 20,000 would cost $60bn. An airforce of 200,000 would cost $600bn. Spread over maybe 10 years, $60bn per year is just 3% of US annual Defense budget which is $1.8tn. This all assumes no economies of scale. In those quantities, the price would be quarter: R&D fully depreciated plus larger factories. It’s easy to reach a capability of 1 million strong airforce. Try training and maintaining a million Top Gun pilots.

Nobody said that AI has to fight on a level playing field. AI doesn’t need to be able to defeat even a single missile fired by an opposing manned aircraft. A fleet of 50 just have to drain the 6 or 8 missiles carried, by dying in quantity, and then the opposing aircraft is essentially defenseless to Beyond Visual Range missiles. No aircraft in history has ever exceeded dominance of more than 20:1. Kill ratio of 100:1 doesn’t mean a single aircraft can go up against 100 enemies, it means that in 20 fights of against 1 against 5, you only lose once.

Concorde? Pffft. NASA wants a Mach 4 passenger jet

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Re: This project must not be allowed to happen

The laws of physics haven’t changed, but airport security has.

Concorde traded on the idea that reducing a 7 hour flight time to a 3 hour flight time was quite attractive. Including a 1 hour wait on the originating airport, and maybe 45 minutes at the destination with waiting for baggage, that reduces 8 hrs 45 down to 4hrs 45. Half. Now, for transatlantic, you are looking at 3 hours checkin to takeoff. So that’s 10hrs 45 down to 6hrs 45. Only 30% quicker.

But worse still, the *real* Concorde USP was “London to New York and back, for a meeting, without an overnight stay”. This just no longer works. The difference between 10hrs 45 and 6hrs 45 is basically nothing at all, since all you can do when you get there is go straight to the hotel to sleep. There’s literally nobody you can sell that proposition to, everybody who has loadsamoney will prefer Business (or even First) on a larger slower aircraft.

South Korea's biggest mobile telco says 5G has failed to deliver on its promise

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Lessons Learned is good…..

If they had indeed done so. They literally wrote down “the problem with 5G was no killer app”, and just a few paras onwards they write their proposals of “what is 6G for” bonkers stuff like holographic watches!

They explicitly noted that regulatory issues should have been considered with the blue-sky claims for 5G…..and immediately segue into the idea that robotic surgery could be a key use-case for 6G. A use-case where: regulatory buy-in is key; the activity is famously conducted *indoors* where the high-frequency bands don’t penetrate; there’s simply no advantage against wired comms for the robot, and the endoscope (being inside somebody) won’t reach well on RF bands.

The main merit of the paper is to note that a proliferation of network architectures caused fragmentation and costs to rise, so picking a couple of basic ones to focus on for 6Gwould be really good…..and immediately failed to mention which ones they proposed to focus on.

Tech CEO admits role in tricking Qualcomm into $150M takeover

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The details are important: *Qualcomm* committed fraud

So let’s look at what the original Qualcomm lawsuit claimed, compared to what the courts eventually decided….

Q claimed that because the actual inventor (Sheida Alan) was *related to* a Q employee, but not herself employed by Q, that the Q contract with their employee somehow gave them direct IP rights over her invention. This is indeed a central part of Q’s employment contract, written explicitly (I’ve been employed there and had to sign), and it is blatantly illegal. They have repeatedly threatened dozens of separate people in various situations in many countries, and it is really good to know that US courts have finally ruled that *Qualcomm’s claim is a lie*. And that Q have knowingly misrepresented the law, in writing, and continue to do so, to their employees. It’s fraud. They’ve “persuaded” many people to sign over rights that they held perfectly legally….sometimes to the extent of calling in bailiffs.

Q claimed that the technology was invented by Arabi, not Alan, and their initial sworn affidavit claimed they had documentary evidence of this. This turned out to be another lie. There was no evidence, and when required to produce such evidence they withdrew the claim. Another instance of blatant corporate fraud.

Q claimed “wire fraud”, and that they had much documentary evidence of this. Again, when it came to court, poof,nothing at all other than empty allegation. Trump would be so proud.

Literally the only thing Q said which turned out not to be a lie, was that Taneja hid where the other investment came from (Arabi). But all the other points, Q affirmed *under oath*, and the court found they were pure baseless allegation. It’s Q execs who should really be doing jail time for this.

Chinese media teases imminent exposé of seismic US spying scheme

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Re: I'm very dubious about this

Not an expert, but a few things occur: distance makes a big difference to attenuation, particularly frequency-dependent. I doubt that you would have had the sensitivity to pick up the rumble of a military convoy from NZ. Second, FDSN: maybe most seismic data stations are on the free network but any seismic station near a military installation will almost certainly be considered national security.

Thirdly, it’s true that the US probably doesn’t need Chinese stations to detect a nuke test, as it has its own resources. However given a denser more sensitive network, there’s probably many other things of interest that a smart analyst can figure out. More data is always good. This isn’t my area of expertise, satellites are. On two separate occasions in my career, I have been shocked at what was released into the public domain, quite literally in press release puff-pieces from Airbus and Thales, about national military satellites. To the non-technical, these will have seemed benign with almost zero information, and I’m sure the info had all been vetted as “non-classified”. But if you understood the technical domain, and looked at it sideways, you could calculate the parameter of a really key capability from the info given, which absolutely was highly classified.

Nearly every AMD CPU since 2017 vulnerable to Inception data-leak attacks

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Re: Just when I thought about upgrading...

Yes, that is my conclusion, although I wouldn’t necessarily go all the way to static scheduling. There is a middle way, eg unspeculated out-of-order execution, register renaming.

Knuth’s point: “such compilers turned out to be impossible to write", I would turn upside down. The software industry decided that we needed to be able to write arbitrary general code, and stuff the consequences. And indeed, it seems to be too difficult to compile that effectively, to the microarchitecture that we would want. But the alternative is simple: decide to change coding standards (mostly) or language (occasionally) to allow reasonable compilers to function. Why evangelise SOLID, polymorphism, object-oriented, dynamic typing etc, when it leads to this shitshow outcome? Why not select software standards to match machine constraints, or at least match microarchitectures to standard software constructs?

Here’s an example: Linux has a standard stack size of 8MB per process “because it doesn’t hurt anything, it’s negligible compared to main memory”, since 1995. Except, it does hurt. If we placed a 2MB hardware constraint on stack size, CPUs could (now) implement stack in on-chip RAM (not cache!). Deterministic low access time to stack would make just a *massive* difference, including security: you can make much harder guarantees against stack overflow plus add separate physical call-stack buffer. Dividing heap/stack as on-chip/off-chip would also be quite a logical distinction.

There’s half a dozen other examples. But absolutely nobody commercial is taking this kind of HW/SW co-design seriously. That’s my real point. People may well have their own opinion whether the specific idea of on-chip stack is good or no. But there’s no industrial *mechanism* to make such radical changes any more. Everything is designed for “the general case”, whatever the consequence.

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Re: Just when I thought about upgrading...

I take the sentiment, but suggest the answer is the opposite. The underlying problem is indeed pointlessly abstracted code, without any thought to performance, which creates a push to single-threaded performance at all costs. Deep pipelines and speculative execution have been the hardware response. But a better HW solution would be: lowered clock frequency and shallow pipelines, which would remove (much of) the need for speculative execution. Then we could afford the power and area for hundreds of low-complexity CPU cores, because cache consumes 90%+ of silicon area.

The critical issue is getting compilers to be able to split the problem onto large numbers of threads automatically…..which they can’t do, because neither the compiler *nor the developer* has an f’ing clue what actual typical program flow is, because “object-oriented”.

But the problem is even more on-topic than that. This particular security flaw occurs because a CPU hardware branch predictor can be forced to mis-predict. So we can ask, why do CPUs have HW branch predictors at all, rather than hard-coded compiler hints? The answer is….object-oriented and DRY. Don’t Repeat Yourself. Two or more entirely different logical causes, result the same section of code being executed. Due to modern software practices, there simply is no single answer as to “what is the most likely branch”, it depends on what called it. Hence run-time branch predictors. This is a *direct* consequence of object-oriented design and DRY.

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Re: Just when I thought about upgrading...

Or computers with non-trusted software downloaded. Consider pads and smartphones, which all have dozens of partially trusted apps downloaded, “protected” by OS sandbox.

Yes, I know not AMD, but this is a proof-of-concept for what can be done against poorly-considered speculative execution implementations. *Everything* has SpecEx. The starting gun really fires when someone takes down some ARM processors


Remember, these are attacks against implementations, not ISA. Just because ARM cores are mitigated, doesn’t mean that e.g, Qualcomm or Apple implemented ARM compatible is. And if anyone ever lets a dozen different shonky RISCV speculative execution implementations out into the wild, we might as well go back into caves and hitting each other with sticks. Fortunately, that’s twenty years away, and always will be.

Big chip players join forces to form another RISC-V venture

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Re: Bet

That makes zero sense, for RISCV, as soon as you stop to think about it. Either you mean “add special instructions”….in which case, the ecosystem is instantly fragmented since binary compatibility is broken. It’s “RISCV”, but only in the sense that every CPU on the planet has an ADD, JMP, AND, XOR.

Or, you mean “implement clever techniques to improve power and performance”, ie clock-gating, better branch predictors, memory wormholing, etc etc. For RISCV, this is definitely needed….except…it correctly admits that the inplementation details are where 99.9% of the value and design cost is. The “notional base” in the spec has was 0.01% of the design cost, and therefore zero value. Most decent hardware engineers could have written that spec from scratch in an afternoon, and coded it the next day. Making it “open source” is just laughably pointless. Giving engineers a document that says “your CPU needs an ADD, JMP, XOR” is just an embarassing waste of paper.

That’s not just a theoretical point. At the cheap microcontroller end, the market is saturated by at least a dozen different manufacturers (not ARM) all of whom just wrote their own ISAs containing maybe 20 instructions. They’ve been around for years or decades. Nobody waited for or needed RISCV. Theres no use for binary compatibility.

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Re: Bet

Why would you think the designs would be cheaper than ARMs? For the last time before I give up explaining this to people outside the industry: *the license cost is an irrelevant fraction of the actual cost*.

The license cost is 2%. To get a feel for what this means in practice, suppose you were a manufacturer of engine control units, and you had the contract for the whole of Volkswagen That means you are selling 5 million units per year. The actual ARM chip in those is costing you 30 cents each. $1.5million annually. The license you pay to ARM is…..$30k. That’s less than the cost of one intern. Nobody changes a whole design to save $30k, on a project worth $500M.

It’s a ridiculous paranoid fantasy by ARM haters.

Bad news: Another data-leaking CPU flaw. Good news: It's utterly impractical

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Not necessarily impractical

The point isn’t the specific probe these researchers used to monitor the leak-path. It’s that data can be leaked at all from *physical attributes* of the cache. In other words, simply invalidating the cache (a known mitigation for timing attacks) does not wipe the potential leak-path, because that only zeros the valid-bit of the cache line, not the data itself. Reading the CPUs power management registers is only *one* way to acquire the data - the most obvious, but certainly not the best.The slowness of the attack is due to being able to read the power management API only every 1 millisecond. There are other physical probes that don’t have that limit.

Then it just becomes a game of finding some other apparently-benign physical sensor that is indirectly affected by power. For example: if the CPU power supply decoupling isn’t perfect, then maybe some LED intensity varies slightly with CPU load. Then the selfie-cam might pick up strobing in the video image. And now giving access to your camera may implicitly give access to encryption keys. There’s at least a dozen known variants of this sort of thing, if you know how to chain them.

Biden urged to completely cripple AI chips to China

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Been like that a long time…..

So, the USA rules have been crazy like this for decades now. ITAR regulations control the export of any “digital computer with performance exceeding 70 Teraflops” due to dual-use, aka nuclear weapons simulations. Yes, “digital computer”, not individual CPU. A couple decades ago, the limit was 1 teraflop. Because physics gets 70x as hard every 20 years, obviously.


Or the ITAR regulation limiting export of “Equipment specially designed for aggregating the performance of digital computers by providing external interconnections which allow communications at unidirectonal data rates exceeding 2.0 Gbyte/s per link”…..such as any 25/50/100G Ethernet router.

ESA sees satellite-based air traffic monitoring on near horizon

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Re: I wonder what level ....

A more modern signal-design and receiver algorithms/structure can easily achieve 10cm accuracy at the same SNR, without resorting to flywheeling over multiple observations using Kalman. The key difference is being able to use fully coherent tracking across the signal paths, which putting GPS receivers in the way prevents. However, I am interpreting that you are fully aware of that, may be involved with either bidding or project decisions, and are defending an ESA pre-selected system architecture, so I’ll leave it there.

Be aware that a non-European player is preparing to offer similar service at 10cm accuracy.

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Re: I wonder what level ....

Maybe. I remain to be convinced it’s simpler in practice.

The LEO is moving at 7.8kps, so you have to flywheel that GPS info from “when the GPS radio front end received the data” to “where am I now that I have processed the GPS data”. You need an accurate and deterministic latency on both the GPS module and every other element on the datapath, down to sub-nanosecond. Ditto absolute latency on main RF signal receive, that doesn’t drift over temperature and life. And there’s the digits: a standard satellite data bus at 1Mbps tick is going to be laughably inadequate for synchronising that. By the time you’ve spent man years in design, and working out calibration procedures, I reckon you’ll wish you’d picked up an off-shelf transparent amplifier chain, and just pressed the big GO button on manufacture…..

OTOH your solution can definitely be made to work, because it *is* done that way on Synthetic Aperture Radar constellations. But those cost a truck-ton of money. Still reckon my way is cheaper and takes fewer technical risks. Maintaining *absolute* timing like that is always vulnerable to “oh shit I forgot” really late in integration.

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Re: Is this a breach of ESA's rules ...

There are *several* important European institutions that the Commission has executed a coup, purely because they have the word European in the name.

E.g. The European Patent Office is not an EU institution, it existed before EU and is completely independent. As of June 1 this year, the Unified Patent Office was initiated by the Commission. If you held an existing patent with the European Patent Office, it has been *unilaterally* and by default moved over to the Unified Patent Office! If you failed to object, in the six-week period allowed to do so, which is now over, you no longer hold a European Patent and you can’t go back. There are, by the way, some good reasons to object, as there are important IP rights you lose in allowing it to pass to UPO.

Most of the original EU treaty organisations have been effectively eviscerated - there were nearly dozen outside the Commission. But the roles are now all duplicated and mastered by Commission Directorates. For example, if you were planning a nuclear reactor, you might expect that to be a Euratom role. But, any direct research is now done through the European Commission Joinr Research Centre, indirect out of Commission Horizon, and all the regulation comes out of Commission DG Energy and DG Environment. Same story on European Environment Agency, also a separate EU Agency established under treaty. Commission has eaten *everything*.

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The same as they do without clouds. This is a radio technology, exact inverse of GPS

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Re: Is this a breach of ESA's rules ...

“Spire said it plans to open an office in Munich, Germany, as part of the contract after recently establishing a subsidiary in the country.”


That’s how the game works!

TETRA radio comms used by emergency heroes easily cracked, say experts

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Re: Spectacularly irresponsible.

“The services were all at risk anyway”

Jesus. Your argument is that we should go round laying mortars onto Number 10, just to drive home your point that Mrs Jones the receptionist really should have signed up to the higher spec door when the salesman came calling.

The people you have a beef with are the procurements people, now retired, and lax software design (your own industry) thirty years ago. The people who are going to get it in the neck, are an ambulance crew lured to a dark alley by a MITM call-out, stabbed and left to die with all their oromorph nicked. You callous retard.

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Re: Spectacularly irresponsible.

There are much better technical solutions than Tetra. Yours is one of them, and would be my preferred. That’s not the issue.

The issue is that there is no way to get *there* from *here* without re-equipping a workforce of hundreds of thousands of people across Europe, with equipment revamps costing many billions, in the *few weeks left before the zero-day goes live in Las Vegas*, plus maybe another 72 hours to hack together a firmware onto the tens of thousands of cheap grey-market SDRs.

We are seriously f*ed. There is going to be major civil unrest, on the days when this goes live.

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Re: Spectacularly irresponsible.

Think of the prize: being able to sniff traffic on police radio would be worth a ten-billion-dollar market opportunity, if you’re a drug-trafficking gang. If it existed, there would be literally tens of thousands of Tetra scanners on the black market. You *can* trivially buy a grey-market Tetra scanner, with open firmware, which receives the signal but can’t decrypt it. So, if you think the vulnerability is known, suggest you try and buy it….the non-decrypting variety are easily googleable.

This is an unpatchable and non-mitigable zero-day being released that hits the most critical systems for society, synchronously across all sectors and several countries simultaneously. Telling people it exists is of zero help to orgs, other than to tell them that from now on ambulance crews and police are going to *have to rely on their mobile phones*. Maybe you think that’s OK.

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Re: Spectacularly irresponsible.

Do you want to assign blame for past IT mistakes…. or do you want people to die in pain waiting for an ambulance that will never come because script kiddies? That’s literally the choice they made. They chose: assigning blame, feeling smug superiority, and many innocent people in forty countries who have not even heard of Tetra will end up dead. Security by obscurity *did* work, for thirty years, right until yesterday. If I had to design a new system any time in the past twenty years, I wouldn’t do it that way.

As somebody else has said, there is no scenario of “[NSA bogeyman] able to listen in on all the confidential conversations”, because military radios don’t use Tetra unencrypted. Only ambulances, fire services, police do. Quite probably someone had *plans* to do something naughty in 1990, but that world no longer exists.

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Re: Really need to fast track a NIST style open radio design competition

Tetra is, in the modern world, a boondoggle. However, the world it was released into, 1994, it was leading edge and no practical alternatives. It was an excellent solution for a real specific need. And that’s why dozens of countries, not just the U.K., plumbed it into the critical services. Today, the problem is there is no stepwise way for a radical change of whole emergency service equipments to some of the more obvious alternatives.

As to the whole “open source the radio/crypto” crowd. Had we listened to that in *1994* when Tetra was released, it would have been cracked *almost immediately*. DES being cracked was still four years in the future. GSM algorithms being cracked were a decade in the future. None of the “secure by design” algorithms for streaming data (as in - not RSA4096) have lasted 30+ years, *only* the secure-by-obscurity. Until today. Had we listened to that crowd *thirty years ago*, we would already be living in a hell scape, free fire death zone ruled by splatterpunks a decade ago. Of course, *now* yes we should use NIST-style crypto standard, although it would be pure folly to run a new competition. Pick the 5G NEA standard and you’re done.

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Spectacularly irresponsible.

Certainly we may criticise security by obscurity. But in this case, that decision was hard-coded when it was spec’d and rolled out thirty years ago. It’s done, no point crying about it. If it’s insecure, the *only* security was that the implementation engineers who signed the paperwork to keep the encryption spec confidential, kept their word. These guys reverse engineered that, they effectively released secret key material for every emergency service in Europe, in one fell swoop.

There are no real mitigations - the claim “oh they will just have to do encryption over the top” is nonsense. Europes police and fire services are not going to all just retrofit an extra scrambler on all their radios. Budgets aren’t magically going to be increased to provide a complete replacement of all their radio equipment with Tetra Upgrade or whatever. This is not just downloading an extra app. Ok, the encryption may be insecure in theory, but there just weren’t any exploits out there in the wild in practice…..until these guys did it.

The police, fire and ambulance services weren’t at risk, until this was released. Now they are.

Releasing these CVEs without viable mitigation is just totally unethical however long they waited. Really badly done, sir, badly done.

Amazon sets up shop at Kennedy Space Center to prep Kuiper broadband satellites

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Re: Licensed Falcons

Doubling the cadence using Falcon9 would mean doubling the size of the company in many areas That’s the bottleneck: SpaceX has nearly 10,000 employees, in a company that employed just 160 fifteen years ago. They really don’t want to grow the organisation further. They would just become the same slow blob that all the other companies have become. SpaceX will want to be a focused engineering org that can still innovate and operate like it did seven or eight years ago, and it’s already 5x the size it really wants to be.

The ideal would be to focus, such that they could launch the same total mass with Starship, with only maybe 1/4 the infrastructure, ie 1/4 the standing army. They do *not* want to be a running a large complex logistics organisation.

“Ariane Space would probably derail any attempt to allow access to a competitor.” EU payloads are already being launched on Falcon9. If Ariane6 maiden launch fails (a coin-flip, just a reality of new launchers), Ariane are going to be under real pressure. Their customers will launch on Falcon9 vehicles, whoever makes it. They rebadged Soyuz as Ariane. Ariane could be literally forced to accept to manufacture Falcon9 under license as a risk reduction.

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Re: Will fail...

Airbus Space has a satellite factory in the USA now. Why shouldn’t Ariane? Ariane were more than happy to rebadge the Soyuz as Ariane, until they got caught out by the war. If the first Ariane 6 launch in [Q2 2024?] fails, their customers such as EU Commission will be forced to launch on Falcon9. The only choice Ariane would have is whether to restructure to manufacture it under license, or let SpaceX take the business.

Whether Ariane6 maiden launch will succeed or not, is a coin-flip. No aspersions on quality, that’s just the reality of a new design.