* Posts by tlhonmey

47 posts • joined 28 May 2014

Why make games for Linux if they don't sell? Because the nerds are just grateful to get something that works


Even without the anti-trust concerns... There were a large number of proprietary network protocols back then. They're pretty much all dead now except for niche uses.

Why? Well, it seems that in the world of communications, anybody being allowed to use it to talk to anybody else is a massive advantage that's difficult to offset with trivial things like efficiency, elegant design, or often even performance.

Calls for 'right to repair' electronics laws grow louder across Europe


Re: Rechargeable batteries and also "non-supported hardware"

These devices already exist. They just cost more. If repairability and open software platforms are important to you then just go find them.

Purism's Librem 5 is the newest open platform phone that's just entering the market. Be warned though, it'll cost you about twice as much as the comparable closed hardware.

And if you mandate longer software support terms for closed hardware you'll see a similar price jump. Writing security patches isn't free. The price of the device when you purchase it includes the expected cost of providing support for the specified term. Extend the term, you raise the price. It's that simple really.


Mandating organic polymer caps would run into the same problem as the "sealed beam" headlight mandate over here in the USA. Sealed beam was a new automotive headlamp technology that produced significantly more light, lasted longer, and used less power. So our all-wise government made them mandatory.

And later, when halogen bulbs came out that were even better there were about ten years where it was illegal to have them on your car and anyone the cops noticed with brighter than average headlights would get pulled over and issued a citation.

If you want repairable equipment, buy repairable equipment. It already exists, you just have to go shopping based on more than the number on the price tag. Manufacturers will design new products based on what they see people buying. If you buy cheap, you'll get cheap. If you buy repairable, you'll get repairable.


Won't do what people think.

Thing is that repairable versions of every class of device are already on the market. They're not popular and almost nobody buys them.

Why not? Well... they're bigger, less powerful, and more expensive. Because leaving enough space in there and using fastening technologies that allow for easy repair takes up more space and costs more.

So: If people *actually* wanted their devices to be repairable, then they'd be willing to fork over the extra cash for a more repairable model. But that's not what people are prioritizing. They're shopping based on power, small size, and price.

Support for right to repair comes from people mistakenly thinking that the tiny, powerful, cheap devices that are everywhere but are bloody hard to fix are the result of some kind of industry-wide conspiracy, rather than an outcome of their own shopping choices. They think that if they just pass some legislation then they'll get their cheap, light, powerful device, only now it will be repairable too! Well... No... They'll probably be the first to complain when the price of phones doubles, or the ultra-slim models cease to be available in their country.

If you want repairable, buy repairable. That's all there is to it. They're easy enough to find. If you shop based on other criteria, then don't complain when it's not repairable.

Surprise! That £339 world's first 'anti-5G' protection device is just a £5 USB drive with a nice sticker on it


I remember seeing little, metallic, stick-on grille things for cell phones that were marketed as a way to prevent the radiation from entering through the ear canal during phone calls and causing brain tumors.

Thing is, according to the research on the subject, cell phone frequencies don't cause cancer or brain tumors... They cause cataracts, but only at significantly higher power levels than are commonly used in phones.

BOFH: Darn Windows 7. It's totally why we need a £1k graphics card for a business computer


Re: Keyboards

My favorite trackball is still an old Kraft from like 1989. Connects via serial port, so it takes some finagling these days, but the sensors and switches still work beautifully. Only problem is the lack of a scroll wheel. But I haven't found a good replacement. All the modern ones have too much damping on the movement so you can't just flick the ball to move the cursor to the other side of the screen.

BOFH: We must... have... beer! Only... cure... for... electromagnetic fields


Re: I'm having headaches

It's a very subtle effect. Nothing the Randi foundation would be particularly interested in. The people who claim to be influencing inanimate objects in any significant way or throwing energy across thousands of miles are probably delusional. Even thinking about it as sending energy is probably incorrect as the human nervous system is not capable of the kinds of power output required to actually do that. More likely it's some kind of harmonic effect.

The human body emits some fairly significant electromagnetic fields, and some people can learn to sense them at close range, and control their own to a certain degree. I have seen some electromagnetic devices used in chiropractic and massage practices for detecting cramped muscles and pinched nerves and similar maladies. In many cases I can detect the same things by touch. I have a cousin who can find them within a few inches without touching, but I'm not that good myself.

I don't practice my Reiki as much as I probably should, but when giving a massage I often get comments that my hands feel burning hot, even from people who know neither what Reiki is nor that I'm capable of using it. Out of curiosity I've checked the actual temperature of my hands in such circumstances and it doesn't seem to actually change, so the sensation must come from something else.

Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of delusional people claiming phenomenal cosmic powers and just outright fraudsters preying on the credulous. But I do think it would be interesting to plaster a good Reiki practitioner and his subject with EEG sensors and see if we can get a glimpse into what's going on.

Backdoors won't weaken your encryption, wails FBI boss. And he's right. They won't – they'll fscking torpedo it


Re: Barr...

And there's your work of genius right there.

They've managed to redefine how everyone thinks about politics so that the far left is Stalin/Mao while the far right is Hitler/Caesar and to convince everyone that we need a "moderate" who is somewhere in between the two...

Anyone who suggests that, you know, maybe totalitarianism *isn't* the way to go is ignored, ridiculed, or slammed with waves of patently false accusations until the retire from the public eye depending on what seems likely to shut them up the quickest.


Re: Stalin would be so proud of him

"Most of Europe seems to manage without everyone owning a gun. It is not a great example."

One can "manage" under a lot of circumstances. The example is quite apt. In most of Europe there are complete bans on carrying guns and bans on carrying anything that can be used as a weapon even... To the point where people who are attacked by robbers in their own homes end up going to jail in some places if they injure one of the poor dears who broke in with murderous intent... And yet the criminals who have plans that require such items always seem to have them where and when they want them. There are entire organized crime groups who make their money by providing illegal weapons for such activities. If smuggling them in proves infeasable they just manufacture them.

Likewise it's been discovered that TrueCrypt's mysterious financial backer was actually a drug kingpin, and the project's shutdown was due to him finally having been arrested. The criminals will have what they need and the only way to stop it would be to reduce the entire population of the planet to the stone age.

Make no mistake: the real target of both gun control and encryption backdoors isn't the criminal underworld like they claim. That's just their way of trying to get you to accept it. It's the common man they're afraid of. In both Britain and the United States modern gun control schemes showed up not when lawmakers saw large amounts of violent crime (They're usually well protected from that) but when circumstances were looking like there was going to be a revolt (Communists in Britain and disaffected former soldiers who were being denied their wages for WWI in the U.S.)

Likewise the call for encryption backdoors didn't start when organized crime and terrorists started using it. Any of them worth their salt have been encrypting their communications and records since before such things were handled by computers, and will continue to use strong encryption no matter what the law may say about it. No, it's when all the serfs "go dark" and suddenly they can't keep an eye on us as easily as they used to that they get worried...

If you want to see what those who want backdoors consider ideal, look at what China's building. That's the goal. Everyone monitored, watched, and tracked 24/7 and anyone who criticizes the government in even the smallest way denied jobs, housing, and transportation until they just wither away and die. Because as far as they're concerned, you're all too stupid, immature, and violent to run your own lives. Never mind that those in government are generally worse than average in all three of those areas...


Re: Stalin would be so proud of him

Actually, there are effective backdoors in all of those things. You hear about critical security issues from time to time when one of them gets figured out by hackers. In some cases they've been able to break into computers that weren't even on. Your best option to avoid those is to buy a computer from Librem. They rip out as much of that crap as they can and have the computer still function.

As for nobody using locks with government-held master keys... That's what the TSA locks are. And yes, they've been cracked.

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist


Proprietary screws?

Unless they're misusing the word "proprietary" to mean "shaped such they can only be tightened and with a drop of superglue on the threads for good measure" there is no type of screw head I've ever seen that offers protection against anyone other than bored children. Unless every lock has a different kind of screw head, you just make a screwdriver and off you go. It's only rarely that it's even difficult. Most "proprietary" "secure" screw types I've seen are trivial modifications to standard screw types and can be implemented with 20 minutes and a dremel tool.

BOFH: Got that syncing feeling, hm? I've looked at your computer and the Outlook isn't great


Re: Human deviousness

A Rubber Mallet and a piece of silk will fry an SSD quite nicely if used properly.

BOFH: Oh dear. Did someone get lost on the Audit Trail?


Re: Ah!!

We have dyed diesel in the US too. But you'll only see it at the filling station in rural areas with lots of farm equipment.

Foot-long £1 sausage roll arrives


"*may contain: buttholes, eyelids, feet, other shit we found on the floor

Pay for decent food - America is a lesson to us all"

Um... You *do* know what sausage casings are made of, right?

The opsec blunders that landed a Russian politician's fraudster son in the clink for 27 years


Re: Opsec blunders and the hybrid laptop

"I would have thought online Credit Card losses were covered by the issuer. "

It is. Limit of liability for false charges on most credit cards in the US is $50.

However, the merchant's agreement with the card company generally also requires them to keep card data secured, with automatic penalties for failure to do so. I've seen agreements with penalties as high as $50k per stolen card number. That'll bankrupt a small business pretty quickly.

Las Vegas locks down ahead of DEF CON hacking conference


So... any malicious people just have to schedule their departure for the day after the end of the conference...

Also note that not accepting jobs via USB doesn't do a lot of good unless you also block physical access to the ports...

BOFH: Oh go on. Strap me to your Hell Desk, PFY


Re: True to tradition

Cutting him in on it might not have been enough to prevent it, but it might have been enough to make him wait until they were installed in the rest of the building.

Don't mess with the BOFH or your desk will eat you...

BOFH: Defenestration, a solution to Solutions To Problems We Don't Have


I am rather surprised that it even got this far... He's subverted the security system already as has been shown many times... Why wouldn't he want there to be records proving once and for all that he was still in the building and not taking a long lunch?

Or proving that the boss is still coming to work, even after he's fallen out the window... Makes it take longer for a replacement to show up.

BOFH: The Boss, the floppy and the work 'experience'


Re: Being on a placement myself...

The thing is that as the pace of technology increases, the Universities have fallen farther and farther behind.

At this point the knowledge you get from a university programming course is likely to be at least ten years out of date by the time you graduate.

Post-outage King's College London orders staff to never make their own backups


Easy to fix...

The solution is simple:

"Yes, my department agrees to store its data exclusively on University shared drives as long as the IT department agrees to fund the replacement of any data they happen to misplace exclusively from their own budget."

If they're confident enough in their backups to agree to that, then they're probably fine to use. And, if they're not, then you get paid to recreate the data. So you're good either way.

There are two "rules of thumb" I give people for backing up important data. The first is that "data does not exist unless it exists in at least three places." The second is to calculate what losing the data would cost you, and then spend a third of that on building a good backup system.

I was authorized to trash my employer's network, sysadmin tells court


So what?

It actually won't be that big a deal if he wins. Sure, criminal charges would be out in the future, but so what? Most fines go to the government, and you have to sue in civil court to get damages anyway.

They'd still be able to sue him on the grounds that no reasonable person would think he was hired to destroy the network, and they would win, and he'd have to pay for the cost of fixing the problems he caused. He wouldn't go to jail, but so what? Sending him to jail just means that a portion of the company's taxes will be paying his room and board for a period of time. Taking his money and destroying his reputation so he can't get another job is far more cost effective.

BOFH: Password HELL. For you, mate, not for me


Re: Humor is in the truth of it

The proper thing to do is not to increment, but simply to add a character to the end. Which single, random character you added is pretty easy to remember, and you've been practicing the rest of the password for 90 days so you won't have forgotten it, and eventually you have a 60 character monstrosity of random characters and everyone wonders how you ever remember such a thing.


Re: call about your accident

The robots are trivial to deal with. Get yourself a tape recorder (Am I dating myself?) with the DTMF tones used to identify a disconnected number. When the robot hears those (sometimes it takes a couple tries) it'll remove your number from its list.

Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals


On the other hand, anyone with an IQ above about 80 and a penchant for destruction can probably come up with a reasonably effective device just by wandering through the local home and garden store and looking for products with brightly coloured warning labels and reading Wikipedia articles about them. Weapons-grade explosive devices were being manufactured by the Chinese out of horse dung and charcoal while London was still an abandoned Roman fort.

If they get the design from a well-known book instead then, at least, it will be more easily recognizable and more likely that the local bomb squad can disarm it if they manage to find it.


Re: Growing your own food can

Depends on where and when you are. The Socialist State of Washington had a complete ban on collecting rainwater until just a few years ago. Furthermore, I may not sell or even give away any of the milk my goats produce unless I have it processed in a certified facility.

Such practices were common on a national level under FDR. He packed the courts so they'd rule that growing your own food would cause you to purchase less and thus "affected" interstate commerce. He then used these rulings to justify seizing and destroying wheat, corn, and livestock produced by small farmers for their own use in an amazingly horrible scheme to kickstart the economy by making sure prices stayed nice and high.

New York city has made it illegal for private citizens to give food to homeless persons.

Basically insanity is the norm, not the exception where humans are concerned.

Linus Torvalds admits 'buggy crap' made it into Linux 4.8


Re: HDMI CEC support

You're misunderstanding. The kernel is indeed modular and can load just the drivers that are actually needed. For that matter, you can build just the drivers you need if you don't want to deal with having all of them lying around and decide if you want them built-in, or just have them available as modules to be loaded as needed. Most distributions build every hardware driver that's not horribly unstable and include it as a loadable module. That way stuff works when you randomly plug in something new.


Re: Mouse bug ?

Alt-Printscreen-r will sometimes reset the input interface, as will switching via the ctrl-alt-functionkey shortcuts (or chvt command) to a tty and back again.

All-in-all, triggering that bug has gotten more rare over the years as the misbehaviours of various HIDs have been noted and exceptions patched in.

Star Trek Beyond: An unwatchable steaming pile of tribble dung


The sad part...

... Is that they stomped all over some really cool fan-made works so they wouldn't "compete" with this dreck... I mean seriously, when a big studio with a multi-million dollar budget can't compete with a bunch of hobbyists and drama students, it's time to throw in the towel...

IOCCO: Police 'reckless' for using terrorism powers on journo sources


Re: Duhfish So when the police break the law, it's called 'being reckless'.

And when those specifically-written laws are broken, who investigates and assigns punishment?

Oh... Right... The same group that was breaking the laws in the first place...

And if you dig through the records of such incidents, you can find a lot of public outrage, usually coupled with, at best, a slap-on-the-wrist type punishment for the perpetrators, and the law goes right on being abused as soon as the incident has faded from the public eye. The bureaucratic entity in charge maybe has some of its pieces swapped out for other pieces with different names, but that perform exactly the same functions (if public outrage is high enough), and business continues as usual. Wash, rinse, repeat, until everyone knows that the law does not apply to the enforcers of it.

You need look no further than the fact that this particular incident appears to have been part of attempted reprisal against a whistle-blower. The message is clear, "Tell anyone about illegal or immoral actions taken by the police, and there will be retribution, even if we have to do morally and/or legally questionable things to get it." It would not surprise me at all to find that this story was leaked on purpose so that anyone thinking of talking to a journalist would know that the authorities would do everything in their power to identify them. And the probable, forthcoming lack of punishment for those involved will reinforce that.

No, my friend, the only way to prevent laws granting this kind of power from being abused is to not write them in the first place, because the population is too gutless and has too short a memory to actually do anything about it if the abuse clauses in the law are ignored.

XenData’s storage Jurassic Park: PC tape backup is BAAAAACK


There were a few prior to the advent of USB that used a parallel port. But the drives themselves were still more expensive than the average user usually wanted to spend. They usually stuck to floppy disks.

For the more adventurous souls, the hardware to let you back up to audio cassette was relatively cheap and/or easy to build. You can reliably get about 2MB on a 90 minute tape that way. Which was about the same as the highest capacity floppy drives, but audio tapes were much, much cheaper.

Western Digital's hard drive encryption is useless. Totally useless


Yeah, it's just good enough that when somebody brings me a drive where the USB controller chip has burnt out I probably can't get their stuff back, but not good enough to keep somebody who makes their living at breaking into people's computers and stealing personal information from doing so.

Google v Oracle: US Supreme Court turns to Obama in Java copyright war


Re: @JLV @Bob Dole: Tough Cookies...

This was *exactly* what happened with the IBM PC. You'll note that those "cheap knockoffs" are what made home computers a thing. Without the open BIOS API that let more than one manufacturer make hardware, we'd still have a computer market where you had to choose what manufacturer to buy from based on the program you wanted to run because they wouldn't be nearly as broadly compatible as they now are.


Without copyright the terms under which a contract developer's code could be copied and used by his employer would be set by the terms of the employment contract, just like they are now.

You'll notice that the recipes for Coke and Pepsi are not copyrighted, but they are still protected by a vast array of NDAs. True, once you code "escapes" to people who haven't signed such agreements there's no bringing it back in without a lot of work, but the idea that software developers wouldn't get paid without copyright laws is ridiculous. You welch on an agreement to pay me for solving your intellectual problem, you're still liable whether the outcome is protected by IP laws or not. Do it too often and nobody will accept your contracts in the first place.

You. FTC. Get over here. Google is INVADING our children's MINDS – anti-ad campaigners


So, to cut through all the fog here, what's being suggested by lots of people seems to be, "Because there exist parents who are too lazy to monitor their children and teach them good viewing habits, skepticism, and independent thought we should forcibly remove anything deemed 'too commercial' from the list of what's available to watch."

Given the results of putting unelected bureaucrats in charge of determining whats "appropriate" to teach children in schools here in the US, and the absolute train-wreck our education system has become because of it, you'll forgive me if the thought of giving them more control over what people watch doesn't seem all that appealing.


Re: "great content shouldn't be reserved for only those families who can afford it."

"Zero entertainment budget" does not necessarily translate into "zero clothing budget", "zero food budget", or various other categories. Poor people actually need *more* information about what's available in order to choose what to spend their limited resources on.

Back to the Future: the internet of things as imagined in 1985


Thing is, most of this could be done with a Raspberry Pi and off-the-shelf parts. No need for purpose-built apps that clutter up your smartphone (and often spy on you). And for lots of the models mentioned, the price would come out about the same.

Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating real entrepreneurs?


Re: Red tape

Sounds a lot like what sales tax is turning into here in the US. Only here you also have to contend with differing tax rates for different services. As an example, the tax code which applies just to a small computer repair shop is in excess of ten pages in my area, and contains gems like a different tax rate for removing software from a computer than for installing software on a computer...

Australia's social media censorship law – for the children - all-but passes


Re: I don't see how this is censorship

Ah, but in traditional harassment law, the penalties are applied to the harassor, not to the owner of the communication medium through which the harassing communication passes. This law is the equivalent of imposing a fine on the telephone company for not being able to prevent obscene voicemails from getting through.

As for how someone could use it for censorship: It's easy. Say you have a Facebook page I don't like. This law doesn't apply to it, but I file a complaint anyway. First several with Facebook (which will ignore them because I'm just being an ass) followed by one with the AU government that Facebook is ignoring it. Facebook then has to dig out its lawyers and audit logs and pay associated costs for an investigation (which finds nothing.) Technically they could sue me, but it's pretty easy to do all this from a false, untraceable identity.

So, I've just cost Facebook a few thousand dollars defending itself from a spurious allegation regarding your page.

Now I do it all again. And again. And again. With modern technology I can have a steady stream of complaints rolling in, possibly even from valid identities depending on how much I want to pay for it.

Facebook's reaction to these tactics in the past has been pretty consistent. Your page will be removed. They don't care about free speech. They won't continue to pay thousands of dollars a month in legal bills to stand up for you just on principle. Your page will be gone without my ever having to reveal who I am. And I can continue to use these tactics against you wherever you attempt to host your content next as long as they have some presence in Australia.

Plus there's the fact that the goal here isn't endgame censorship. The goal is to get the people to regard the government telling them what they can and can't post or read on the Internet as normal by starting with something that most people don't have a problem with. They'll come around for another nibble of your free speech next year.

Microsoft absorbs open-source internal startup MS Open Technology


Anybody using or accepting code from them needs to be careful. If the license is not purchased, there's no legal contract, and they can revoke it at any time. I forsee a tactic of "spread out, write code for lots of open source projects, and once it's thoroughly in use tell them they have thirty days to pay us for it or stop using it."

Docker huddles under Linux patent-troll protection umbrella


The average tactic of the stereotypical patent troll is not to find a patent that you are clearly infringing and sue you for it. It's to find a patent that you arguably *might* be infringing, and then threaten to sue you and intentionally drag the case out as long as possible in court, thereby costing you millions in legal fees and lost work time if you don't agree to pay them a few hundred thousand to go away. Most of the time they don't even win their cases, but they've still cost you years worth of sitting in court. They can bankrupt your company without having a valid claim, and sometimes without even actually identifying what you're actually doing that violates the patent.

Relax, it's just Ubuntu 15.04. AARGH! IT'S FULL OF SYSTEMD!!!


Re: @qtcoder (was:systemd? Do not want.)

Check out the "Open Phoenux". Doesn't really meet your "just a telephone" requirements, but you get to run a real OS on it instead of that Android crap. Not sure if it'll run BSD, but it does run Debian or Gentoo.

BOFH: Mmm, gotta love me some fresh BYOD dog roll


Re: Dog Roll

Well, I know they're sold in the United States. They're not generally called "Dog Rolls" here though.

Apple KILLS SUPER MARIO. And Zelda. And Sonic


Re: "Piracy based emulation"

"Piracy-based emulation" would be an emulator which uses a pirated copy of the original console's internal ROM. Such emulators do exist.

However, it is the position of most console manufacturers that *any* emulation without an official license is piracy, even if it uses a "clean room rewrite" of their ROM. This assertion doesn't stand up in court as it's exactly what all the IBM-PC clone makers did back in the 80s and 90s; but it doesn't have to if Apple is willing to simply ban all such emulators from their devices.

The moral? Buy an Open Phoenux and run whatever you darn well please.

Yes, Samaritans, the law does apply to you. Even if you mean well


From the information presented in this article, I would say that whether or not the law applies depends on how the app works. If it harvests Twitter data and sends it off to the Samaritans for processing, and then displays the result, then yes, the law as phrased would apply to them. And, since the law does not require you to give them anything other than your name, a single person who demands they stop processing data, and withholds their Twitter handle can force them to shut down the entire service.

If, on the other hand, all processing is performed locally on the smartphone in question, then your notice needs to be directed to those of your twitter followers who use the app. The Samaritans would no more be liable for their software being misused by people who do not comply with legal notifications than would the manufacturer of the time clock in the example you gave if some employer chose to misuse it.

And then it also gets to their position about it not being reasonable for you to expect privacy when posting things to third-party sites on the Internet. Which is yet another can of worms to deal with.

Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything


Where did it go wrong?

Don't know about elsewhere, but in the USA it went wrong with the DMCA, which made what the fellow with the oscilloscope at the top of the article did an automatic felony, even if no such terms were included in the sales contract. (It's very rarely prosecuted though, just used to extort money/behaviour from people) And I'm not talking about him posting the instructions, I'm talking about using the workarounds, on a piece of hardware he theoretically owns.

Meanwhile, certain large interests *cough Disney cough* have managed to get the copyright term pushed out to over 120 years. And even once those copyrights expire, under the DMCA it will *still* be illegal to bypass the copy protection to make any copies...

And so software and hardware lockouts are protected with the force of law. It will be coming to a PC near you next. Micro$oft is already requiring some platforms to be locked down so that they will not run any other OS without buying permission.

We're ALL Winston Smith now - and our common enemy is the Big Brother State


Re: Judicial controls

In a constitutional republic (like a lot of countries are) it already is. Doesn't help much though as the government simply builds a big enough military/police force that they can then vote away the prohibition on voting themselves more power and break the heads of the first few people who complain. The other 80% of the population are sheep who don't pay attention and are too afraid to stand up for themselves.

Klingon and Maori roar into 'mutt's nuts' dictionary


Re: Klingon and Swedish

My tlhInganHol is rather rusty, but, for the uninitiated, the Du' also makes the statement plural. Without it, it may only be referring to one. So it's kind of necessary both for specifying what type of orb and how many.

You can also use -Daj to specify that the orbs in question are still owned by the dog, as opposed to say, "dog orbs" as an appetizer or something...

targh moQDu'Daj is about the best translation I can think of (given that a targh is about as close to a dog as the Klingons have) but I rather doubt that it would be used as a compliment...


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