* Posts by martinusher

1362 posts • joined 24 Feb 2015


Ethernet failure on Swiss business jet prompted emergency descent, say aviation safety bods

martinusher Silver badge

Re: When that Ethernet network degrades or fails, things can become unpredictable.

Token Ring does degrade gracefully but its got appalling throughput compared to Ethernet, its expensive and relatively few people understand it. It was on of those 'seemed like a good idea at the time' jobs.

There is another class of networking that many people -- even those that work with data networks -- are unaware of. These are industrial networking technologies, and one popular one has a passing resemblance to Token Ring. Its also used by Airbus -- at least they're members of the technology group. This type of networking -- EtherCAT -- is built on Ethernet physical layer equipment and (superficially) Ethernet format traffic but all the stations are connected in a ring. It differs from 'pure' Token Ring type networks in that there is no circulating token or MAC level protocol to manage and throw a token -- all traffic originates from and terminates on a 'master'. This type of network is designed to be reliable, potentially redundant, to fail in a predictable manner and can support syncronized data transfers to a precision of a microsecond or better.

Your latest security headache? Ed from accounting using his kid as an unpaid helpdesk

martinusher Silver badge

This whole working from home thing is an accident waiting to happen

Currently working from home is working out very well for employers since it frees up their own fixed resources (office space &tc.) and also guarantees that employees are effectively available 24/7. Freebe on-site technical support is just a bonus. This is all likely to change, though.

The catylist is in-home businesses. The line between 'hobby' and 'business' has always been a bit fuzzy but it really comes down to whether the hobby impacts the neighborhood and whether it makes any money. Office work at home doesn't impact the neighbors like car repairs or furniture making might but it could be said to be making money. This in the US tends to attract the attention of authorities, be it a zoning variance or business license or a more expensive 'business' network connection. The one person who won't be able to cash in will be the employee --- the rules were changed years ago to prevent people from easily writing off space in the house used for work, for example. (This is US practice but I expect that the UK won't be that different.)

Its only a matter of time before someone starts looking at working from home as "transferring a part of the business to a residential address". It'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

Huawei chairman says tech giant's goal is ‘survival’ as it battles ‘non-stop aggression’

martinusher Silver badge

Re: A few miles away...

Before the latest round of Cold War moves by the US and its 'allies' Taiwan was doing a lot of business with the mainland, hosting a lot of Chinese tourists & visitors and generally everyone was getting on OK. Its true that official Chinese government rhetoric said that Taiwan was part of China (which, strictly speaking, it is) and the Taiwanese's muted rhetoric was something to the effect of "Over our dead bodies" but this international version of "Don't Ask / Don't Tell" seemed to be working. But then along comes trouble -- got to stir that pot, inflame those tensions and generally try to profit from conflict.

Its the same with Hong Kong. Things were bumping along quite well but then we have to not only encourage but also finance "pro-Democracy" movements. Its not enough that local elections should be held regularly and that that China-skeptic candidates make a significant showing, we have to go full color-revolution on them and threaten Chinese soverignty. (The irony being that given the social cllimate and general employment sitaution in the US at this time you'd have to be mad to want to emigrate here from HK.)

No amount of knocking China is going to make it go away. Its also not going to turn back into the facsimile of a society that it was 100 years ago, prostrate before Imperial powers. We have to learn to live with it. That doesn't mean we agree with everything they do or how the live, that's their business, but we'd be better served looking to our own faults and shortcomings before loudly bellowing about everyone else.

She was praised by the CEO and promoted. After her brother and mom died, she returned from compassionate leave. IBM laid her off

martinusher Silver badge

Re: What the Hell Has Happened to IBM?

The post should be titled "What the Hell Has Happend to ________?" where you get to fill in the blanks, pick your corporation of choice. IBM's handling of employees is SoP for US corporations and its actually one of the principal reasons why "Make America Great Again" is never going to be much more than a slogan. The disconnect starts at the boardroom; the Guru of All Things Capitalist, Milton Freidman, taught that the one and only purpose of corporate management was to "enhance shareholder value" -- in other words, to persue dividens and stock price rises. Which, coincidentally, also maximizes executive compensation. The problem with this approach is that it loses sight with what the business actually does -- so long as the business makes money its not thought to be important how this is done or how steps taken today might impact the future.

Its a well known story. The problem, though, is that word gets around and sooner or later the corporation can't hire talent because it has nothing to offer except a medicre salary, an overbearing management culture and chronic employee insecurity. It uses outsourcing and aquisitions to cover its tracks for a time but it won't work, its in a downward spiral with the end is never in doubt. The only unknown is "how fast?".

(If I sound a bit cynical its because this has been the reality of my working life, first in England and then in the US. I've only avoided the worst of it by working at startups; this is a different type of gamble but its still vulnerable to the excesses of 'financial engineering'. I've been relatively luck but I've seen the impact this corporate mindset has had on friends, colleagues and relations. Our national goal should be to encourage the Chinese to embrace this kind of rot because if they don't they're going to end up wiping the floor with us.)

We're not getting back with Galileo, UK govt tells The Reg, as question marks sprout above its BS*

martinusher Silver badge


Surely with the UK's compact size there's a wealth of old LORAN kit that could be repurposed for its navigation needs?

After all, given the insular nature of the Brexit mindset there really isn't anything much of interest beyond the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone -- there's a bunch of irritating wannabe foreigners on an island to the west and a load of foreigners to the south and east but England has stood tall without them in the past so doesn't really need to know much beyond the understanding that there's a (rail) tunnel that leads to Another Dimension.

Russia tested satellite-to-satellite shooter, say UK and USA

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Weapons in Space

If you really want to be mean put the paintballs in the freezer for a bit.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of 'Advanced Night Repair' skin cream helping NASA to commercialise space

martinusher Silver badge


The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes so I'd guess that 'night' maybe lasts half that.

Das Keyboard 4C TKL: Plucky mechanical contender strikes happy medium between typing feel and clackety-clack joy

martinusher Silver badge

We'll pay an extra ~10% in sales tax (it varies depending on where you live). Your sales tax -- 20% VAT -- is already rolled into the price.

The awful reality is that the unit probably cost $25 to make. The answer to the price question is "Because they can" -- the price you pay for something is not connected to what it costs to make but what you're prepared to pay for it. Its the modern way.

Tesla wins defamation counterclaim against Gigafactory whistleblower

martinusher Silver badge

Shorting Tesla Stock Was Big Business

Ifs easy to forget that prior to Tesla sorting out its production problems resulting in the current lofty (unrealistic/fantastic/overblown -- you name it) stock valuation Tesla stock was a favorite for short sellers. There was a lot of big money shorting this stock so any news -- real, speculative or just plain fabricated -- was welcome news to these sellers. Tesla jumped on this kind of whistleblower because its the sort of thing that could snowball.

The story behind the story is that currently corporate performance is reported solely in terms of how it affects that company's stock price. This is a logical outcome from the wholesale adoption of Milton Freidman's theory that the one and only purpose of corporate management was to "deliver maximum value to shareholders" -- the stock price is all that matters. This might not be important if your corporation is an effective monopoly, you control the message as well as the product (until things really start to go South like airliners start crashing**) but if you're trying to develop new product like Tesla the stock market will kill you if it thinks its the quick way to make the money.

(**Before the 737MAX debacle the business press in the US was fed a steady diet of stores about how new generation aircraft like the MAX were crusing the opposition (i.e. Airbus), how the 380 was symbolic of Airbus's failure and so on.)

Tencent in talks for 'longterm solution' to WeChat mess as injunction keeps the app alive

martinusher Silver badge

Re: unclear how or if the Trump administration intends to respond

The fundamental weakness in our system of government is that it requires an independent judiciary that's prepared to do the right thing. We have a set up where the judiciary has been systematically corrupted by applying an ideological test for new, lifetime, appointments. (Forget the recent SCOTUS vacancy -- there's been a bit of a production line filling a large backlog of lower and appeal court vacancies that have been allowed to build up for years.) Couple this with a Department of Juistice that's not prepared to enforce the law, at least any law that inconveniences the Administration, and is prepared to purge anyone from the ranks who doesn't toe the line, and you've got a situation where an Administration can either do what it wants or can be stymied at every turn depending on whether its complexion pleases the power base. Trump's just a useful tool.....

Wanna live on the edge and play with a multi-core system crammed with 5G, AI? Here's a dev kit Qualcomm has in mind

martinusher Silver badge

Some tweaks for Tesla's image processing needed?

In the US and Canada at least if a car comes up behind you and shines a very bright red light at you then its asking you to pull over. If it follows you as you move to the right and slow down then its telling you it wants you to stop. You obviously need to stop somewhere safe so you acknowledge the signal using the right turn signal (its 'common practice', I don't think its in the driver's handbook). So Tesla has a bit of software work to do. Recognizing the 'pull over' signal should be relatively straightforward, the system then at a minimum should alert the driver, restrict the maximum speed of the vehicle and maybe move to the right if its safe to do so. If nothing else it would help the cops manage sleeping or unfit drivers.

Traffic stops are going to vary by country but the Autopilot system should at least recognize them.

Bad news for 'cool dads' trying to bond with their teens: China-owned TikTok and WeChat face US download ban by Sunday

martinusher Silver badge

Its not a matter of 'cool dads' bonding with teens, its a matter of the Bill of Rights. I do not know by what authority the Federal government feels it can restrict my ability to download this application. It has to be fought because if we let them get away with this they'll come for anything else they feel like. Its not as if laws were passed or anything like that -- Trump issues a diktat and we're all supposed to blindly follow.

Not me.

The lawsuit might be problematical. If nothing else we're in a hell of a jam at the moment because RBG has just died and the Republicans are bursting to get some ultra-right wing ideolgue on the court (who, being a champion of freedom &tc. will immediately start working on restricting others' freedoms).

Video encoders using Huawei chips have backdoors and bad bugs – and Chinese giant says it's not to blame

martinusher Silver badge

Re: neworange88888888

The problem with bug reporting is that while its handy to quote references numbers like "CVE-2020-1234567" it doesn't tell us squat about what's actually going wrong. All I was able to glean from the article is that there's a telnet client in there that might have a hard coded password; since Telnet isn't exactly secure anyway this represents a significant security risk. But that's just a matter of including an unnecessary application with the end product. Once word about this gets out instead of people saying 'that's dumb, need to delete unnecessary code' or some such you end up with experts dogpiling on the OS (because we all know thanks to MSFT, Google, Apple et al that Operating Systems are huge, monolithic pieces of code).

As we progress further into a world where software is a product of curated development environments we're seeing more information but less knowledge. Inject politics into this and we end up with a huge mess. I'd guess that relatively few of us who read this have ever brought a board up, using or even developing a BSP ("Board Support Package") because if they did then they'd realize that what HiSilicon and Huawei say makes complete sense.

Top 5 billionaires find that global pandemics are good for business – and their wallets

martinusher Silver badge

Its all virtual

I have a modest amount of savings and I too have become noticeably richer over the last few months. Its all Monopoly Money, though -- numbers on a bank statement. I might be able to turn this windfall into cash but if a number of us try to do this at the same time the value of the securities will plummet. If I'm successful at cashing out then I'm going to have to pay Capital Gains Tax on my profits (in the US its 22.5% or 15% depending on 'long term' or 'short term' gains).

There's far too much emphasis on stock prices as a measure of wealth at the moment. You can't see a discussion on any business in the press -- virus vaccine, electric vehicles, semiconductors, civil aircraft, Chinese applications, whatever -- without it immediately pivoting to how it affects the stock price. I know that Milton Friedman was the apostle that said the only purpose of business was to "maximize shareholder value" but he's dead wrong because he never defined what 'value' is -- its immediately equated with 'stock price' and if that can be goosed by financial wheeling and dealing then that's as valid as developing a solid business. Since wheeling and dealing makes more money in the short term we gradually hollow out our economies, offshoring the tedious substance while enjoying the froth. This isn't sustainable.

The rise in securities prices should be worrying because its a measure of inflation. You pour money into the economy by printing it then that money's got to end up somewhere and it ends up inflating asset prices. If you own assets then that's great. If you're just an ordinary working stiff then you're being systematically screwed -- and moaning about how its 'no fair' isn't going to fix it.

We want weaponised urban drones flying through your house, says UK defence ministry as it waves a fistful of banknotes

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Dystopian future

>Imagine a cheap $100 drone

Oh dear. For that kind of money you'll need to either import the unit from China or assemble from Chinese components. That's not going to go down well at the Ministry.

Good: US boasts it collared two in Chinese hacking bust. Bad: They aren't the actual hackers, rest are safe in China

martinusher Silver badge

Bogeyman du jour

Its apparently the rule these days that anything involving China should a) be negative in tone and b) mention the "Chinese Communist Party" prominently. There's been numerous examples of cooperation between police in the US and China in the past but now everything is political. Maybe this is part of the plan, part of the process of isolating their society so our own versions of MinTruth can frame their version of the world picture accurately.

Common sense would suggest that state actors most definitely don't work through a 'storefront for hacked data' in Malaysia.

Incidentally, Sweden has just given up a Chinese citizen (Quiao Juanjun), a former government official accused of money laundering, visa fraud and the like. The Swedes had refused an extradition request from the Chinese because of "fears of political persecution" but I'd guess that because the money was obtained from corrupt practice political persecution would be the least of his worries.

Stop asking for Amazon, Google and Microsoft cloud with 'no justification': US Library of Congress told to drop its 'brand-name'-tastic RFP

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Seems like school got dismissed early!

Not Trump but quite likely one of his cabal. Privatizing governement functions is a key plank in ultra-right wing political philosophy.

martinusher Silver badge

Cloud providers meet Big Users

The Library of Congress is a good example of an organization who really needs to have this level of storage capability in-house. They are going to be in this for the long term -- the Library of Congress existed well before computers and will exist after the likes of Google, Microsoft and Amazon are historical footnote -- and they have large and ever increasing demands for storage. A cloud provider would be useful for short term backup and overflow provision but its not a good fit for all storage needs -- at best its going to be a large and growing tax, at worst there's going to be a big headache as the providers change.

The government already owns vast storage capabilities (ask the NSA) so mooching off their data centers would probably be the most cost effective way to provide for long term data storage needs.

VMware staff in Silicon Valley can leave a pandemic, wildfire-ridden zone – if they're willing to accept less pay

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Is

The Land of the Free has most states implementing "Right to Work" legislation. This allows both employee and employer to work 'at will' -- neither party needs to give any notice that they're terminating someone's employment.

What this means in practice is that employers hold all the cards. They usually sugar the pill a bit to avoid frightening off the bits of the workforce they want to retain but basically if they want you gone, you're gone. So if the chocie is a reduction of salary or termination -- well, you choose.

I think that because the UK has been a member of the EU it has all these legacy employment practices that involve treating employees half-decently. However, now you're independent you're free to adopt US working methods, including the right to work.

Cops called to Singapore golf club after 'wrongdoers' use scripts to book popular timeslots

martinusher Silver badge

It really is resource misuse

What those little scripts are doing may look innocent enough but they're actually a de facto denial of service attack. Your typical script kiddie has no real feel for the amount of resources being used to service a Curl call, to them its just a matter of making the call and expecting a prompt answer. (They need a prompt answer because they're typically keeping their code hung on the service call...) Its possible that a more sophisticated programmer could also use tactics more in keeping with DoS such as holding sockets open (simulated slow response), simulating multiple requiestors and so on but that just compounds the crime.

I don't golf but I gather that a big part of golf protocol is "playing the game according to the rules". This is why they'd take a dim view of gaming the system, it would be as unthinkable as useing a radio controlled golf ball to steer a putt into the cup. I'm surprised that they'd regard this as an emergency, though -- I'd have thought they'd have a quiet word with one of the members, the chief constable or maybe a government minister, someone like that, and they'd see that the problem's dealt with.

China makes treatment of its 5G vendors an issue to rank with climate change or disarmament

martinusher Silver badge

A little history

Back when I was little I had an interesting collection of books that I'd got from junk sales and the like. One was 'electrotechnoloy', it was about the generation, distribution and use of electricity in industry and dated from 1903. It was interesting to see that back then a lot of the state of the art examples were German.

We all know the story. The UK was the world's premier manufacturing hub by the middle of the 19th century but other countries, most noticably German, started catching up by the turn ofthe century. In fact by the first couple of decades of the 20th century much of the scientific literature was being published in German, a language you needed to be fluent with if you wanted to be a chemist. Germany went off the rails a bit by listening to the siren song of Empire and the resulting commercial and imperial challenge to the established order (UK #1, France not #1 but don't tell them, they'd be upset) eventually spilled over as World War One. The result of the 20th century conflicts was to rebalance the world but it didn't stop Germany from continuing to grow and eventually dominating Europe (leaving the UK where?).

We're in the same position now. We have a dominant colonial power, the US, which was the world leader in manufacturing, science and technolgoy that's being challenged by another power, a country that seeks to be regarded as a peer rather than a vassal. This is a bitter pill to swallow but like the experience with Germany and Great Britain fighting wars doesn't actually achieve much except to cause a lot of distruction and loss of life, it doesn't alter the fundamentals. We in the US are now like the UK in 1900 -- we've got the military, we own the world and we know we're Number One and we're going to stay that way because, well, we deserve it, we're Number One. History is never kind to Empires.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Uh-huh. Sure. Pull the other leg ...

You're probably not old enough to remember when Japan used to do the same thing. It was so bad that "Japanese" was a byword for "shoddy knockoff".

Nobody can say this about Japan in recent years. Japanese products are invariably excellent.

China isn't Japan but is evolving in the same way. Based on my observations they're past the "copy and worry about quality and IP issues later" phase and are now producing excellent products that include locally generated IP.

Drone firm DJI promises 'local data mode' to fend off US government's mooted ban

martinusher Silver badge

We don't need to 'defend' China

I'm quite sure that China can take care of itself. Its been around for 5000 years in one form or another, its survived some colonization and some really brutal treatment and its developed from nothing to a global power in less than one lifetime. Because its so large and diverse its difficult to generalize, our attempts invariably fall short. I'm pretty sure that the primary reason why a company like DJI came into being is that it saw a way to make a lot of money rather than seeing it as an avenue for Global Domination. In that respect its no different from an American enterprise apart from the ability to deliver a useful product at a $500 price point rather than $50,000 or so (....and no, I'm not joking......that's what my daughter's father in law was working on before he retried, a Gen-u-ine MilSpec drone with a price tag to match that 'almost worked').

I've worked with numerous Chinese engineers and they really do come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They're not anonymous hive beings, they're people like us (but different -- although nothing like as different as a Japanese engineer.....). They have a sense of humor, they can even be quite cynical (quote from one about the Chinese Basic Law of Engineering -- "If at first you don't succeed, lower your expectations"). There's a lot of them and some of them are off the scale smart, scarily so.

The thing we've really screwed up on -- apart from giving them the farm to goose our short term profitability -- is going all Cold War on them. Until recently they were all good Global Citizens, playing their part and so on. Now we've decided to threaten them they think "We must be doing great if America is scared of us" and so we're now happily fanning the embers of Chinese Nationalism. Wise heads like that Ren Zhengfei (Huawei) fellow will push back against this but you know how seductive nationalism can be. We may yet rue the day that we started this, especially when our semiconductor industry lies in ruins because of "cheap Chinese imports".

Go Huawei, Android: Chinese telco biz claims it will spread Harmony OS for smartphone to devs come December

martinusher Silver badge


"Essential applications like Google Maps, Gmail and Play Store"

OK, I'll give you the Maps thing, its useful but its also not unique. Play Store is just an interface to the applications download area and Gmail, well, its just Gmail. Handy, but not exactly essential.

The proboem with Google Mobile Services is that it really is thinly disguised spyware so Huawei building an alternative may well snag a large part of Google's market for 'analytics'. (There is a rumor going around that Google is experimenting with eavesdropping for keywords -- my daughter's not given to paraoia but she mentioned that people have noticed that some things they talk about have been turning up in adverts.) There's no guarantee that Huawei won't be as intrusive as the Google but there's always a chance because they probably don't need to be (its a bit like Amazon and their product software -- they don't need 7 of your 8 cores to try and figure out what you're looking for or buying because you're telling them every time you buy something).

Server buyers ask Lenovo for made-in-Mexico models instead of Chinese kit

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Part Sourced?

Given the woeful level of ignorance about both technology and supply chains its worth the extra trouble to get a bunch of brainless bureaucrats off your back.

martinusher Silver badge

It was more like a border brawl. The reason why so many people were killed is that when you brawl on the side of a cliff people are going to fall off.

No military weapons were involved in this conflict. (We can be greatful for small mercies.)

The National Museum of Computing flings opens its non-virtual doors

martinusher Silver badge

>Were they the same person?

They're related -- they have Herman Hollerith in common. Babbage's use of Jaquard punched cards as a data store was turned by Hollerith into the data processing industry, the world of tabulators and sorting machines. When digital computers became available they got inserted into data processing once someone figured out a way to instruct the computer to do useful work that didn't require a postgraduate degree in math or engineering (and infinite patience). That's Grace Hopper's contribution.

(I wonder if this museum has any LEO machines? They're really important in the history of computing, especially British computing.)

When Huawei leaves, the UK doesn't lead in 5G, says new report commissioned by... er... Huawei

martinusher Silver badge

I don't know about getting rid of the three letter agencies, they tend to slurp off backbones, but the unfortuante fact of life is that when it comes to standards compliant 5G you've got to involve Huawei. You might be able to limp along with a sort of "5G Evolution" until one of the other manufacturers catches up but the result is that you'll end up dumping a lot of really expensive but only partially functional gear on the customer base (who aren't going to be at all pleased when they find out they've been conned).

Currently the US doesn't have that much of a play in this technology. Qualcomm is a major chip supplier and they've cross licenced technology with Huawei but they're building chips for phones, not infrastructure. We (the US) seem to be pinning our hopes on OpenRAN which sounds rather like what is known here as a "Hail Mary" play -- there's not the investment to really get this moving and there's no easy way to ramp it up (the government might provide money but that won't make a suitably trained workforce appear as if by magic).

I can 'proceed without you', judge tells Julian Assange after courtroom outburst

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Blackmailed

You obviously don't know how the Federal court system works. The odds are stacked against any defendant, especially in 'national security' cases. He's toast.

But then that's the point. Its not about justice, truth or anything like that, its about 'pour encourager les autres'.....just in case anyone else gets any bright ideas about disseminating information in the future.

(Yes, as a matter fact I am an American......we keep away from Federal law enforcement for our own good.)

Huawei set to exit server, storage, networking business in the UK

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Not so fast

>no employee protections, tiny wages, slave-labour working conditions, no environmental controls, free-and-easy attitude to (foreign) IP...

I can't speak for all jobs in China (obviously) but note that a colleague's new in-laws tended to regard the couple as the 'poor relations'. (I live in California, BTW.) The relatives that worked in industry at comparable jobs earned similar money but the cost of living was a lot lower (taxes and housing costs, for example). This doesn't mean there's a rush to move to China -- the middle class there looks to buy real estate on the West Coast and other desirable locations as soon as they accumulate some money.

Its complicated, but I can assure you that you don't run state of the art assembly lines with slave labor. The part of China that does a lot of technology manufacturing -- Guangdong -- actually 'looks a bit like Califorina" according to another colleague that travels there on business. (If by that he means the Bay Area then Heaven Help Them....)

The numbers tell the story. China's colleges are turning out about 35,000 engineers a year.Huawei has about 45,000 working on R&D. They may have needed to copy to learn but like the Japanese before them (who, incidentally, also like asymmetrical traffic in IP) they rapidly learn how to do things themselves.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: So, how was it that

The numbers tell the story.

Huawei is China's version of Bell Labs. Back in the day Bell Labs and its manufacturing affiliate, Western Electric, dominated telecommunications with both basic research and product development. We decided that it was a waste of good profit to spend all this money on R&D so we split up the Bell System into a bunch of regional companies and rebranded Bell Labs as Lucent. Without the phone system subsidy Lucent gradually became unprofitable and eventually it was sold off to Alcatel which eventually got absorbed by Nokia. Employment in these companies dwindled; the money, as ever, was in selling services so the phone network became dominated by cell companies, cable networks and the like, all rather more intent on selling plans than building equipment.

We are to blame for this situation, not the Chinese. They've got the infrastructure and people to develop systems, we don't. The best we can come up with is OpenRAN and a bunch of startup hopefuls. We can also pretend that Nokia and Ericsson are really US companies that just happen to be located in 'friendly' territory.

UK readers will know this type of story well. I used to work in the UK but gave up years ago because of the systematic de-industrialization of the country. The US offered better opportunities at the time because of its size but its been following the UK model; being larger it took longer to fall but now in many areas its a shadow of its former self. Like the UK the US is unable to fully come to terms with what its done, how the financialization of everything has led it to a situation where it only knows how to make money, not product, and like the UK it points to an ever dwindling set of exceptions to convince itself that its not really happening.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Not so fast

By "Trade Abuses" you surely mean "producing competitive producs"?

>cause the UK to reverse course and reopen their market to Huawei.

The UK has this rather arrogant notion that its doing everyone a favor by allowing them to sell products to them. This is all back to front; you need the products because you don't have the national capability to produce this kit, it wasn't a profitiable way to invest money. Companies would like to sell you kit but they have other markets that are less bothersome to work with so why bother with the irritant? If the UK becomes a technological backwater -- 'if' being questionable -- then its no skin of anyone else's nose, its the UK's business.

Look around you for equipment that's designed and made in the UK. Compared to the world I grew up there's bascially nothing -- practically everything you use is imported, not just the 'things' but the underlying technology.

Tech ambitions said to lie at heart of Britain’s bonkers crash-and-burn Brexit plan

martinusher Silver badge

Sustained Investment?

We've been here before. The reference to ICL missed the important part -- the investment was made under Harold Wilson's Labour government, Wilson himself referring to "the white heat of technology" in his call to modernze British industry. The government was actively involved in investing, seeding money for industries that it thought were likely to be a key part of Britain's future.

So what actually happened?

Investment was always a bit on the low side because of the dreaded "Public Sector Borrowing Requirement". There's no way The City would put up cash; they're a bunch of rentiers with a short term investment horizon. Once the Thatcher Revolution got underway everything was privatized -- often in a hurry and often with a huge loss for the taxpayer -- and after the inevitable flurry of mergers and asset stripping the husks were left to blow away on the wind. Thatcher also put a stop to the idea that North Sea Oil was going to provide a capital fund for British industry and innovation -- it was more rip/burn/pillage, get as much out as quickly and profitably as possible and make off with the loot (unlike Norway.......).

So, the idea that Boris is going to do his own version of "White Heat of Technology" thing is a bit laughable. There's no infrastructure left. Building it up would require an investment in education (for a start) that needs to be sustained over decades. Still, if its what makes him happy......and you lot did give him a sizable majority last Christmas......

Ghost of Windows past spotted haunting Yorkshire railway station

martinusher Silver badge

You've got to get the hang of this embedded computer thing.....

I don't know where it is chiselled in stone that "You have to upgrade your software at all times OR ELSE". This is obviously the thing for desktop computers, epsecially if you like a bit of a game of chance, embedded systems run by a different set of rules, the most important being "If it works don't mess with it". Despite what the IoT evangelists tell you its not considered good practice to dangle appliances on the Wild Web -- there's too many probers, too many script kiddies and what-have-you to spend your life playing whack-a-mole with them. If they're networked at all they should be communicating with a local control server with the rest of the communicating capabilites sufficiently buttoned up that nobody can get in -- and just as important -- no process can get out.

A lot of the kit that's made has to go through a fairly extensive and involved test and ceritification cycle. This takes for ever and is fundamentally incompatible with the Agile way of doing things (which looks more like the "Spray the stuff at the barn wall and see what sticks" school of programming). The Windows release cycles and test methodology are too hasty and slapdash to trust anything to -- OK, an information board isn't going to do any harm if it malfunctions but what if that system is running the positioning and scanning equipment of an Open CAT scan device (a half-ton of machinery whizzing around next to your fragile body.....). The upgrade cycle could literally take years so there's a need for a stable release, one that might not have the latest tricks in drag 'n drop or fashion in icon design, just something that people can rely on.

Personally, I wouldn't use Windows for any critical application. But 'I' don't get that choice. Real programmers build castles in the air so they love the freedom Microsoft gives them to make wonders out of trivia -- and they can always point the finger elsewhere when everything goes belly up.

AI in the enterprise: Prepare to be disappointed – oversold but under appreciated, it can help... just not too much

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Great Marketing Tool

Artificial Intelligence has been around in one form or another for many decades. Its failed to live up to the promise because its oversold, its not really 'AI' as 'SI', simulated intelligence. This doesn't mean its not useful, its just that to get the best out of it you need to understand both its capabilities and its limitations.

I may be a bit out of date but I think of the techniques used as Inference Engines, Production Systems and Neural Nets/Perceptrons. Each technique can yield what appears to be intelligent behavior to people who don't know what's going on but if you know what you're working with then its easy to drive the system mad (i.e. get erratic and/or meaningless answers from it). My fear is that given the properies of typical marketing folk and the eagerness of a significant subset of programmers to please that we're going to be saddled with algorithms that 'kinda/sorta/almost' work and people who believe the machine is infalliable. Not an exciting prospect.

US ponders tech export ban on SMIC, China's biggest chipmaker

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SMIC might be a "law abiding citizen"....

....but the US government definitely isn't. Its gone Wild West on us.

I feel that the only reason why 'the rest of the world' is being so polite about it is that they're hoping that come January 20th there might be adults again in the Administration. This might not change policies, though -- you don't need much to ignite a full on Red Scare so I expect that all these sanctions and Entity Lists will contine. Too bad its doing US companies a fair bit of direct damage.

What price security? Well, for the US ban on Huawei/ZTE kit it's around $1.8bn, and you're going to pay most of it

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Chinaware Infestation

Co-opted for what puirpose?

The Chinese Communist Party serves the same purpose in China as the Democratic and Republican parties serve in the US. These parties represent the ruling ideologies for their countries. This has nothing to do with a company selling product internationally; Huawei doesn't make and sell product for nefarious purposes, it does it to make a profit. It got a foothold in the telecoms infrastructure in the US by serving a segment of the market which our established corporations didn't find profitable enough to be bothered making the investment in servicing them. Its a classic exmaple of how capitalism is supposed to work. This market toehold allowed Huawei to grow and within a fairly short space of time it became a major global player in a market we thought we dominated. Hence all the fuss about 'security'.

Personally, I put it down to the fact that currently lobbyists and politicians are cheaper to hire than product development specialists.

As Amazon pulls union-buster job ads, workers describe a 'Mad Max' atmosphere – unsafe, bullying, abusive

martinusher Silver badge

The reality of the world of work

Most of us reading this site are what I'd call 'professional' sorts -- middle class wannabes who are probably the scions of middle class types and the like -- so have no real feel for what the world of work is realy like. The reality is that when you're at the bottom of the heap this is what work is like -- you have no worth to an employer save what they can wring out of you ih what's known as 'surplus labor' (the difference between what you can make for them and what they cost you). If you read enough literature you'll realize that this condition is the norm -- although the TV shows Upstairs/Downstairs life from the Upstairs perspective the vast majority of people were Downstairs and lived a life of drudgery and insecurity. You don't have to go back that far, either -- my grandparents' generation lived like this. The situation post-WW2 was a sort of anomoly, a period when things were better for a time ("You've Never Had It So Good") but the clawbacks started as early as the 1960s in the UK with the result that today its like the 1930s, but this time in color.

I'm not trying to make excuses for Amazon or any other employer but rather point out that this is really the logical result of decades of poor political choices. Your forebearers fought and in many cases died for things we all took for granted -- a five day workweek of 40 hours or less that yielded a living wage, functional rather than punitive unemployement and social safety net systems, affordable housing and so on -- only to have their descendants throw it all away for what was essentially a handful of lottery tickets. The only way forward is to start over, to recognize the situation we're all in and the impact that culture has on you (especially the fixation on culture wars when it really should be class wars --- but that's a whole different subject).

But this is capitaism at its finest. If you don't like working at Amazon all you need to do -- to quote the immortal words of Norman Tebbitt -- "get on your bike".

Amazon spies on staff, fires them by text for not hitting secretive targets, workers 'feel forced to work through pain, injuries' – report

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Re: For what it's worth

The rot has spread a bit far for unions to make much immediate effect. California, like many US states, is a "right to work" state. This neat bit of DoubleSpeak just means that you can be fired at will at any time for any reason although you have the right to leave at any time for any reason. (We don't do Black Lists, of course....) This can make the job of anyone who even mentions the 'U' word a bit dicey. You'll find tips and tricks for organizing on youTube, they're worth watching because you'd be amazed at the legal minefied you'll have to negotiate to get union representation recognized.

Amazon at least regards its employees as employees and they pay at least the prevailing minimum wage. The fact that this is crap wages &tc. is just the condition of many poor - especially minority poor -- in the US. Most jobs don't pay that much better. Since the trend is now to go for 'independent contractors' -- zero hours by another name -- the workforce can do a lot worse. The issue really isn't "Amazon", its the entire system. We only tilt at Amazon because "that's where the money is" but get a job doing anything similar -- supermarket work, building services, transportation -- and you'll find that these wages and conditions are typical. Crap, but typical.

martinusher Silver badge

Its not just Amazon

This kind of management by numbers was originally devised by Frederick Taylor in latter part of the 19th century -- 'scientific management', as it was called, relies on collecting large amounts of workforce productivity data in order to find ways to optimize workflow. Once the obvious causes of bottlenecks have been eliminated, though, the only pliable link in the chain is the humans in the workforce. The result is a cascading series of targets -- senior management communicates targets to middle management, middle management communicate targets to line management and line management impresses those targets on the workforce. Its a flawed system because it doesn't reckon with human ingenuity. Since the only choices the workforce have is to produce or die (i.e. get fired) they will eventually find ways to game the system. This might be difficult for people who work at a company that's got a lot of technology which is why there are complaints from the workforce -- the Amazon workforce isn't exactly wired up like the robots in "Metropolis" but they're effectively connected, monitored and generally kept under observation. This isn't peculiar to Amazon, though -- look at the Instacarts, the Ubers, anywhere where there is a an attmept to thwart reality and human nature to deliver a product ostensibly under market value and you'll see an overdriven, overmonitored workforce. (But at least Amazon pays minimum wage in the US......)(...that is, they're employees, not so-called 'independent contractors')

Cisco warns miscreants are crippling IOS XR network gear over the internet with memory black-holes. No patch yet

martinusher Silver badge

Re: silly paranoid liberals

Its been done before. It doesn't hurt to be careful, especially in the current social climate. I don't think there are any 'secrets' but if you read local news outlets you can see an almost desperate search for scandal -- I'd guess its the pressing need to find something that could be pointed to ("see, they're as bad as we are....").

Like a lot of generic Americans (to quote one older lady) "I'll vote for a potato over Trump". You don't have to be a Democrat, or even a demonrat, to recognize that we're not doing that well as things are at the moment.

Sounds like the black helicopters have come for us. Oh, just another swarm of FAA-approved Amazon delivery drones

martinusher Silver badge

The biggest problem we have finding model flying sites is noise -- homeowners dislike even the quiet whine of electric propulsion. A secondary problem is potential fire danger. One local site was shut down after an electric plane crashed and stared a brush fire. We currently have a decent flying site only because we fly sailplanes -- non-powered, launched by winch or hand with no self-contained launch system permitted (despite it being a very popular form of flying).

Let's face it. Models and homeowners do not mix. Whatever way you want to slice or dice it what Amazon is proposing is delivery by model helicopter. This might be econoimc in the boonies but in urban areas its a guaranteed way to seriously annoy the locals, aka "the customer base". Personally, I think the best innovation that Amazon has made in its delivery system is "Prime Day", the idea that you can elect to group all those small BS orders together and have them delivered once per week. Occasionally you need something right now but for most of the time -- no, not really.

(I'm a bit surprised that there's only a couple of places left in LA where you can fly models. I'd guess that a lot of smaller stuff is being flown illegally. It miight also explain why we're graduallly picking up fliers from the area -- we're just over the line in Ventura County.)

China trolls Trump with tech export rules changes that could imperil TikTok sale

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Re: The whole thing is a mess

Its not a 'sides' thing. The Chinese, like all nations, have laws to protect the integrity of the country. We may or may not agree with them but pretending that there's this wellspring of 'freedom and democracy' which needs to flow over the entire Earth is not just disingenuous, its blatantly false.

If you pulled the sorts of tricks that have been happening in Hong Kong in the US then you'd find out very quickly that we've got identical laws prohibiting foreign actors from inciting, financing and generally participating in actions against the state. Its well known that we exercise our jurisdiction globally and we find it quite reasonable that this is asymmetrical -- we will not recognize the jurisdiction of any external agency over us. We also have a very fluid attitude towards democracy -- we've been ruled by a minority for many decades now, the majority being beaten back by a variety of constitutional and legislative tricks (and its got so bad that this upcoming election is not so much an election but a fight for democracy -- we're being ruled by decree now, in case you haven't noticed).

We need to take politicians' pronoucements with a generous pinch of salt. They have a habit of spouting off the wall comments that suit some fanciful line and their ever faithful pundits repeat this as fact. This whole 'CCP' thing is BS -- its about as relevant as saying the entire US establishment is in thrall to the Republican party. Its their establishment. We've got ours, they've got theirs. We use our tools to further our interests, they use theirs to further theirs. Its simple.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Irrelevant

The authority for banning TikTok is a bit tenuous at best and its been challenged in court. It may fail but we do need to define "What emergency?" and "What threat to national security?". You can't stop an American company from doing business in the US just because its parent is Chinese. This opens the door to all sorts of problems.

We've got used to the idea that we -- the US -- can do outrageous things and the rest of the world just has to put up and shut up. In the hands of Trump, a person who has absolutely no idea what he's doing, the envelope is being pushed further and further from globally accepted norms. Sooner or later someone is going to stop being polite and push back. Imagine Apple or Microsoft suddenly being told to sell their Chinese subsidiaries to a Chinese parent -- that's 40% of Apple's business up in smoke (not to mention the potential for supply chain SNAFUs interfering with product launches).

Dell: 60% of our people won't be going back into an office regularly after COVID-19

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The opportunities for rapid outsourcing......just think......

Kubernetes moves to end ‘permanent beta’ for some APIs

martinusher Silver badge

Re: "to help slow upgraders"

Its difficult to explain to a modern programmer that you can't keep upgrading production code all the time. In my area when a customer orders a product part of the SKU is the firmware build that they want with that product. The reason for this is that there's often a test and certification cycle associated with the system associated wth that product, its just a small cog in a very big machine, so its thought to be a lot more desirable to incorporate a product with known bugs than introduce code that potentially has unknown bugs. This then extends into software maintainance where key customers' products firmware are maintain on a code archive branch with only critical bug fixes migrated to that branch (and then only after its been green lighted by the customer).

A short way of describing this is that we don't want to end up in Windows 10 type Hell -- there's too much riding on the integrity of the machines to risk a shotgun approach to software updates.

(Then there is the well known engineering maxim -- "If it works, don't mess with it".)

Huawei mobile mast installed next to secret MI5 data centre in London has 7 years to do whatever it is Huawei does

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Is that the one..

Our son went to a new high school that was built around an office block that was originally designed for a company involved in developing electronic warfare equipment. On the surface the original building looked like a generic office building but on closer inspection you noticed that the windows had an unusual architectural 'sunshade' around them. This was to prevent people looking in -- from sattelites.

The company was active in that facility in the 70s and 80s. It was sufficiently secretive that its actually difficutl to find information on it, just the occasional reference in obscure government documents, and a search isn't helped by there being a similar sounding company that makes relatively benign equipment based on the other side of the country at that time. So -- sometimes reality is weirder than the most outlandish conspiracy theories.

(Incidentally, the basement of the facility included a high security meeting room, the sort you might see in a spy movie. It was removed when the facility was converted into the school.)

martinusher Silver badge

Re: You've heard of Tempest?

>put an antenna on the roof and done

You end up having to drop the cable into the facility. Try it. (Nobody will let you.)(Its a security thing.....)

martinusher Silver badge

You've heard of Tempest?

Sensitive equipment and locations are shielded to prevent eavesdroppers from deducing data from spurious emissions, power line fluctuations and the like. Its been standard practice for many decades.

Don't you find it a bit worrying when you find people who are supposed to be technically knowledgeable repeating voodoo? Politiicans are sort-of allowed to be ignorant because they're supposed to know experts that can give them this information. However, its becoming increasingly obvious that we've lost it -- I can;t believe the level of crap coming from senior politicians and experts these days. (....and you think that this kind of studied ignorance is going to make your country competitive?)

FWIW -- Getting R/F into a generic data center is impossible. The buildings are too well shielded and too noisy. This has been a bit of an issue to get precision timestamps for system performance monitoring because the best source of those timestamps is GPS.

iPhone soon to be Hecho en Mexico? Taiwan's Foxconn, Pegatron mulling going south of the US border – report

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Wouldn't that be ironic?

>I'll avoid a mental image of hundreds of people hand-placing components with tweezers and magnifiers

A modern pick and place system is a lot faster and more accurate than any human being, even assuming a human can actually place the parts in the first place. The units I'm familiar with are German, BTW, which explains why the German economy has been doing OK, they're big in industrial automation.

Not all parts can be placed by the machine. Typically what will happen is that the bulk of the board gets placed and soldered in a very long 'oven', the board will get cleaned and any parts that can't go through this process due to size or intolerance to being cooked in a ten zone oven will be placed and soldered manually. (A factory's procedures will vary depending on the product volume.) After cleaning and testing the board will then be given a conformal coating. Its wonderful to watch and while we're aware that there's Chinese facilities that are sub-standard any serious one will be using the same state of the art equipment that we do.

There's nothing stopping the same kind of lines being set up in Mexico but why would you bother? We're the other side of the border in California and so you wouldn't be surprised to discover that if you're on the shop floor the most common language spoken by the workforce is Spanish**. The workforce is reasonably well paid but that's only part of the story -- its the setting up and supervision of the lines that's the skilled work -- its seriouisly skilled work (and diagnosing problems isn't trivial, either).

(**Obviously everyone being a local is totally bi-lingual. Its a cultural thing.....)



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