* Posts by martinusher

1249 posts • joined 24 Feb 2015


You may be distracted by the pandemic but FYI: US Senate panel OK's backdoors-by-the-backdoor EARN IT Act

martinusher Silver badge

Re: States

You have a taste of this with the EU. The EU consists of a number of member states, each with their own laws and law enforcement mechanisms. The EU itself provides a common framework for those laws. The EU is a bit different because it pretends that its not a Federal republic (and so avoids all that Federal level democracy, making do with fig-leaves).

If you want to see how this would work out in practice in the US just look at the laws and their enforcement with regard to marijuana. Its legal in a number of states but illegal at the Federal level so you could get problems if you transported a load of weed between states ("Intrastate commerce" is Federal jurisdication) or came to the attention of Federal law enforcement (such as a Border Patrol checkpoint). Enforcement of laws is hit and miss and unduly bureaucratic in California because local jurisdictions also have a say about what's legal to sell where. The result is that the industry bumps along avoiding situations where it could be regarded as problematical and the rest of us just wish the state licensing and enforcement people would just dissapear -- they're more trouble than they're worth. Mapped to encryption it will be a case of "you and who's army?" -- states don't have the manpower or expertise to get involved.

As for the 'child abuse' thing, we've moved on from pizza parlors to on-line upscale furniture vendors as the 'conspiracy theory du jour'. There's some seriously weird people out there -- and a lot of them seem to be in Congress.

Rip and replace is such a long Huawei to go, UK telcos plead, citing 'blackouts' and 'billion pound' costs: Are Vodafone and BT playing 'Project Fear'?

martinusher Silver badge

The "Heritage Foundation" aren't a technical institute, they're a think tank funded to push neoconservative ideas. What would be surprising is if they didn't produce a report crticial of Chinese this or that.

You're right that Trump is merely the tip of the boil. There's a lot festering underneath. But in a country where about 11% of the population can be persuaded that drinking bleach will immunize them from Covid then just about anything's possible if you put up the money. (And talking of money, my money is on any corproation who found their monpolly threatened in the shift from 4G to 5G, especially if their 5G solution is anemic, power hungry and expensive.)(Remember, in today's USofA lobbyists are a lot easier to hire than engineers.)

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Trumpery

It appears that a lot of Ericsson kit is made in China anyway.

GCHQ's cyber arm report on Huawei said to be burning hole through UK.gov desks

martinusher Silver badge

We gave away the farm but still expect the farmer to do our bidding

The only significant issues with Huawei is that its successful, Chinese and its not providing a profit flow for the usual financial players (its an employee owned company). Of these sins the third is probably the gravest because a corporation that's not generating raw material for the financial engineers of this world is not playing the game. By not participating its not just depriving the bankers of their just rewards but its also making a more efficient business model that's difficult for a regular corporation to compete with.

There are other companies that aren't Chinese that don't play the corporate financial shell game whcih grow very efficient and profitable. You'll notice that eventually they'll be calls for them to be broken up 'in the public interest'. My epxerience has been that its rarely been in the public intrerest, the real beneficiaries of this are the bankers with the customers always ending up on the losing end.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Chinese ambassador: "Britain can only be great when it can have its independent foreign policy."

>now would you like to hear some more about our independent foreign policy position on Hong Kong

Hong Kong is part of China. It enjoys a good bit of autonomy from China proper but its only in the same sense that somewhere like the Isle of Man is an idendpendent part of the United Kingdom.

The laws that the Chinese have extended to Hong Kong are not unlike those UK Terrorism Act laws under which four people were arrested a couple of days ago. (If you're unfamiliar with this act then its worth looking up a summary in Wikipedia or similar -- I'd guess that any parrly or externally funded group in the UK that was formenting violence or serious damage to property would would be named as a prohibited group.)

Trump's bright idea of kicking out foreign students unless unis resume in-person classes stuns tech, science world

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Hmm

Back in February -- pre-Covid -- I had one of my regular meetings with my 'financial advisor'. The stock market was riding high but the discussion was not about 'if' there was a crash but 'when'. The problem, put simply, was that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 had cut taxes but not generated any jobs because the bulk of the cuts went into asset price inflation -- stock buybacks, for example. Its great if you're well off because you become even more well off ('as if by magic') but the inflation not only leaves everyone vulnerable to a correction -- that's the polite name for a crash -- but it also leaves companies comparatively weak so they're less able to weather a downturn.

Its reckoned that at least a quarter of all US corporations are 'zombies' -- they're sustained by debt that they have no conceivable way of paying off. This problem didn't start with Trump, its been gathering momentum since Dubya (Bush 2 to you) but its very real and we're already seeing a significant number of bankruptcies in the retail and service sectors.

As a FYI, we figured the crash would occur post election. We were wrong; we were aware of Covid but at the time it was a form of SARS, we didn't realize that it was possible to screw up our response to this that badly (because we hadn't noticed that Trump had dumped the pandemic response team a couple of years back).

Manchester, UK seeks IT-slinger: £235m for number-plate-and-fines system to clean up vehicle emissions

martinusher Silver badge

>Or they'll just change the standard and charge more people.

This is a Congestion Charging scheme dressed up as a Clean Air initiative. The original Congestion Charge proposals were a bit draconian -- Manchester is a bit more compact than London and hasn't got the extensive network of train and tube services so from what I saw most Mancs would have to pony up just to leave the house -- so I daresay they were shelved as potential political suicide. Introducing them as a "Clean Air" initiative with the vague promise that maybe they'll be withdrawn at some future date.....come on, does anyone seriously believe this stuff?

Mind the airgap: Why nothing focuses the mind like a bit of tech antiquing

martinusher Silver badge

Re: At a loss

>Wouldn't the same effect be achieved by simply turning off the wifi at home?

Not really -- there are often a lot of ther users and 'things' connected to the home network.

Older kit tends to be more ergonomic in design and less focused on style -- the design focus was less on how it looked and how cheaply it could be made and more on how well it actually worked. There's been a gradual, but inexorable, shift from 'tool' to 'consumer device' in the design of kit, especially portable devices, resulting in things that look great but are just not very nice to use, especially for long periods of time.

If this system desperately needed to be networked then there's a lot of ways to make it happen. Sure, it won't connect to typical moden WiFi network but most APs have a 'Guest' option which could use lower security -- provided you were prepared to deal with the security headaches. (I've got an old 802.11b AP that I use in this type of situation.....modern kit tends to be unsure about what exactly this is!)

If there's a lesson to be learned in these torrid times, it's that civilisation is fleeting – but Windows XP is eternal

martinusher Silver badge

Meanwhile, in industry.....

Windows has been the platform of choice for many years in industry and as with many things in life "If it works, don't mess with it" is the Golden Rule. So I'm going to crank up a little industrial PC in a little while to run some tests and it will be running XP. So what? Its not on the Interweb -- its not even networked except to the units its working with -- so nobody's going to mess with it.

Why don't we industrial sorts upgrade every five minutes? The reason's pretty straightforward. One of our customer (for example) builds a big medical system, an open MRI scanner, and the software for this was originally developed for what could be thought of as the ultimate Hell Brew of OSes -- VxWin. (That's VxWorks cosited with Windows XP). There's now an effort to bring the system up to date, more because of VxWorks than anything else, but the work involved is daunting -- not only are you shooting at a moving target (Windows 10 isn't exactly a stable platform) but there's a huge amount of work involved in porting, rewriting and, of course, test and certification. So even if the application did eventually move to Win10 its bound to be well obsolete by the time the years have ticked by on this project. (Personally, I think the smart choice would be to select a LTS version of Linux and be done with it but Institutional Inertia being what it is.....).

An airport information system is a relatively simple application. I'd leave it alone until the smoke escaped.

'Google cannot stop it, control it or curtail it...' Inside the murky world of fake addiction treatment center search spam

martinusher Silver badge

Its the times we live in

One of the larger AM stations serving the Los Angeles market (KFI) seems to live off advertising for attornies (mostly accident, some timeshare and tax), mortgate refiance and dubious investments. A few months ago there was also a sprinkling of car dealer ads but car sales have been in free fall so even that's stopped.

Its a good bet that the online market follows the radio market. I just assume that all advertisements are scams and I don't bother trying to use Google to look anything up.

(Incidentally, many people on the Left Coast assume that anything out of Florida is either a weird conspriacy theory or a scam.)

Dutch national broadcaster saw ad revenue rise when it stopped tracking users. It's meant to work like that, right?

martinusher Silver badge

Its a self-supporting bubble

I've long suspected that the modern advert ecosystem is a self-sustaining bubble -- it only works because the people involved in it believe in it and the moment that belief falters the whole thing will just pop and disappear. The microtargeting of advertisements is a great idea in theory but its implementation is so poor that it rarely serves up anything that I'd be interested in looking at. Its got to be a bit of a game, watching how random keywords can sent the algorithms off into the weeds, and its obiously so widespread that this turned up in the punchline of a recent nationally syndicated comic strip.

I suspect one reason why Amazon has become so successful is that unlike other retailers who have to rely on third party spyware to track users' browsing habits and interests they have all this information on a plate since they're both advertiser and supplier. This means that they can strip a lot of the client side code making their site a lot more responsive than the typical retailer site. From a users' perspective this makes going anywhere other than Amazon a tedious exercise in browsing as a search on anything other than a premium system with a low latency link leads to interminable delays in page loads and responses to user input.

The good news: Vodafone switches on first full-fat, real-life 5G network in the UK. The bad news: it only got sent to Coventry

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Which applications exactly?

I've spent quite a bit of time working with isosynchronous networking, its used in (among other things) industrial automation to coordinate multiaxis servo movements. At this time I'm at a loss to think of a domestic or commercial application for this capability. Its also the sort of thing that doesn't work at all well parked on a conventional TCP/IP stack -- this traffic has its own Ethertypes and either enscaputlates generic network traffic or mediates it depending on the speicifc protocol being used.

I don't like to say that "such and such is impossible / pointless" but at this time it looks like a technology looking for an application.

Scala contributor: Open source and diversity key to tackling dev skills shortage

martinusher Silver badge

Software development often doesn't involve software

I don't work with applications development per se, its more embedded development, but the fundamental idea's the same -- you have a set of requirements, a problem to solve, resources to solve it with and you have to weave the bits together. The problem is, though, that knowing a computer language -- or two, or three -- is a bit like having English language skills; they're important for many jobs (in English speaking countries, obviously) but they by themselves won't actually solve anything. Its all the other bits of knowledge that you need to know in order to know what code to write.

I have described this problem as being a bit like building a bridge. At its simplest level its a log or plank spanning a ditch. No math or experience required. Bridges get more complex as they get larger -- some are over the counter structures but most are custom designs and depending on what they're spanning they may become major engineering projects. A big part of bridge building is knowing when a plank will do and when you need to talk to structural engineers. A programmer straight out of college is really at the plank across ditch stage. They might get by with OTC components but when you've got to design then there will be a problem. Since software systems don't fail spectaularly -- you just keep piling up the code and ad hoc bug fixing until the budget dries up and the customer loses patience -- you may never realize that the fundamental problem was that you were out of your depth and you never knew it.

UN warns of global e-waste wave as amount of gadgets dumped jumps 21% in 5 years

martinusher Silver badge

The problem's in the software

I still have a nice little Motion tablet that did sterling service for years until XP's Service Pack 3 did for it. It now barely runs the one application it's still used with. (The fact it can still run that application is that its not been upgraded for a decade or more -- doesn't need to, its just the front end for a box.) I have a couple of tablets and a phone or two that are going down the same route, unusuable not because they've stopped working but because successive software upgrades have made them unusable except for very specialized activities.

People tell me that all this is necessary for security and user experience enhancement. This is true up to a point but it doesn't explain the runaway code bloat, the reckless use of memory and storage and a general attitude 'grab what you can like there's no tomorrow' to system resources. I think its a self perpetuating cycle that once stopped will cause people to question what and why and may cause the industry to go into recession. My needs for computing and other devices haven't changed much for years; the only thing that changes are the needs of advertisers and content providers and their DRM. (I also happen to think -- to know -- that vulnerabilities and bug probabilities increase with the size of a code base so you can't tell me that doubling the size of an application is making it more secure -- far from it. You don't fix vulnerabilities by making things so turgid that nobody can find their way out of the maze.)

It’s happened again: AT&T sued for allegedly transferring victim's number to thieves in $1.9m cryptocoin heist

martinusher Silver badge

Re: 24E6 eggs in a flimsy basket

I've only got a fraction of that sum in my life savings but it relies on more than a password to protect it from miscreants. First of all, the accounts that hold this money are not in any way connected with our day to day checking accounts -- they're air gapped. Secondly, as a 'high net worth' individual you get a personal banker who gets to know you and your fiscal habits. This personal service means that any unusual request like an out of the blue outbound wire transaction to Ruritania is going to raise a few eyebrows and at least a phone call. Thirdly, as your credit is likely to be stellar there's never any particular need to raise funds 'right now' -- everything can be done at the speed of a personal visit or snailmail because creditors know you're good for the cash.

The only reason for hiding that level of money is that its either dodgy or you don't want the IRS to know about it (essentially the same thing).

Details of Beijing's new Hong Kong security law signal end to more than two decades of autonomy

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Terrorism Act 2006

>Just look at several recent decisions by the US Supreme Court that sent President Trump into a frothy Twitter storm.

The most recent SCOTUS decision that sent the right wing into a meltdown was because Justice Roberts put judicial continuity above ideological purity. The case -- about abortion restrictions -- was essentially the same as one decided a couple of years ago. He remarked that while he agreed with the sentiment he didn't favor reversing settled decisions.

The current administration has been working with the Federalist Society to get literally hundreds of idelogically reliable people appointed to the Federal bench, many of them not regarded as quaitified by the ABA. The criteria for appointment are ideological soundness and a relatively young age (they're lifetime appointments). (BTW -- One of the quirks of the US is that you don't have to have any legal qualifications to be appointed a judge.)

I suspet that we've only been thrown in a tizzy because this law has put a stop to our dreams of a color revolution (we tried it -- yellow umbrellas -- remember?)

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Terrorism Act 2006

>Yes, but people here accused of terrorism still have the right to a fair trial,

Many legal systems differ from the one used in the US and England. China adopted the 'Continental' (or Napoleonic) model where a case being developed by a prosecutor is overseen by a judge who determines whether there's enough evidence for a conviction. (Disclaimer - I'm no expert and I don't like the sound of it myself.)

Where National Security is involved notions like 'fair trial' tend to go out the window. We all know about Mr. Assange's problems but there were several politically motivated show trials in the UK in the 1980s that were a travesty of justice. (Then there's the more recent case of some Spanish politicians who tried to hold a referendum about Catalan independence.....that wasn't very pretty....)

Hong Kong isn't some remote island that geographically and culturally separate from China. Its part of China so you're not going to be able to destabilize the local government without invoking the wrath of the central government.

Stinker, emailer, trawler, spy: How an engineer stole top US chip designs, smuggled them to China to set up a rival fab

martinusher Silver badge

Re: So what about Chinese non-nationals?

One man's entrepreneur is another man's spy. Its just a matter of perspective.

Beijing's tightening grip on Hong Kong could put region's future as an up-and-coming tech hub in jeopardy

martinusher Silver badge

Anyone remember Spain?

That's Spain from a year or two ago, not 1936.

You'll recall that there was a bit of a kerfuffle in Catalonia due to the regional government wanting to hold a referendum on Catalonian independence. The Spanish government objected and tried by all sorts of means to block the vote. They also arrested and tried about a dozen leaders, 9 of which were found guilty of sedition and sentenced to prison terms of 9 years and up.

Hong Kong is part of China. Unlike Catalonia it doesn't even have the historical basis to be an independent state, it just became a UK posession through a lease granted as a result of colonial era pressure. Its now part of China again so the Chinese government -- and a good part of the population -- is going to take a dim view of any separatist movement. What's surprising about this new legislation isn't that it was passed but rather what took the government so long to get around passing it.

Apple said to be removing charger, headphones from upcoming iPhone 12 series

martinusher Silver badge

>Especially if they drop the price.

That's being a bit optimistic.

Everyone seems to think that the cost savings are primarily from not shipping a charger and earbuds with the phone. I think the real savings come from not having connectors. Its not just the parts themselves, its that they're relatively bulky, they have to be placed in particular locations on the circuit board and they represent a mechanical weak point. Just building a hermetic iThingy realizes huge cost savings that won't be passed onto Apple's fandom (and as a bonus the product will be effectively unfixable so the feel good "I'm reducing eWaste" thing will be mostly illusion).

Huawei wins approval to plonk £1bn optical comms R&D facility in UK's leafy Cambridgeshire

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

>Don't be daft. Trump may think he's God, but he's got nothing on a local councillor in full pomp.

The control happens behind the scenes. I daresay there's a bit of John Deere earthmoving kit involved or something. You just threaten sanctions against the contractors, Nord Stream II style.

Trump's vendetta aganst Huawei is hurting US businesses but he and his crew aren't smart enough to understand how supply chains work. I just hope we can get rid of them before they do too much damage.

Singapore awards 5G licences – and winning carriers pick anyone but Huawei for nationwide network

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Seen it all before

The problem with the "US using financial muscle" on Huawei is that the US is rapidly running out of financial muscle. This may not be apparent to anyone who lives outside the US, to many we look as if we have infinite money, but the inside view is very different. The current Administration may go around flashing cash at all and sundry but the only place they can get it from is from lenders, they're borrowing agianst 'We, the People's ability to pay the interest.

All Huawei is doing wrong is producing highly competitive products. We walked away from the infrastructure market (leading to a lot of redundancies among the workforce) because it didn't make enough money for Wall Street. Now we realize that this stuff is important, we really need to have a capability, but we've not only given away the farm but sacked all the farmhands. All we're left with is trying to pour weedkiller on a successful neighbor's plot.

Maybe there is hope for 2020: AI that 'predicts criminality' from faces with '80% accuracy, no bias' gets in the sea

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Fizzog

>Those who are treated as criminals, have nothing to loose by being one.

This pretty much sums up the problem of being a young, black male in the US. What's amazing, given the circumstances, is that as many as two thirds of this population somehow manage to escape the net.

(Its not just the US, either. Remember the sorry tale of the bank manager (Dale Semer) who's obviously guilty because, well, just look at his hairstyle and jacket. Real bank managers don't loiok like that....)

China's internet watchdog freezes 10 too-trashy online video services before they undermine socialism

martinusher Silver badge

>Why are Communists and Facisits always so prudish?

Prudishness isn't anything to do with economic systems.

There are very similar prudish forces in our own societies. There has always been a tussle between what's regarded as public decency and people who push the envelope. What China is pushing back against would be problematical for British TV as late as the 1970s. We run different standards today so shows from the 1970s and earlier would fall foul of modern censors.

(BTW -- My mum used to watch something called "The Black and White Minstrel Show" on BBC TV. Look it up.....)

UK police's face recognition tech breaks human rights laws. Outlaw it, civil rights group urges Court of Appeal

martinusher Silver badge

Re: What's a "Human Right"?

>The USA didn't have Irish bombers driving transit vans around the country blowing stuff up

Maybe not Irish bombers but we certainly have our share of bombers. Ireland had all sorts of technology such as an early experiment in tracking people in Belfast using a database of food and other purchases plus consumption of electricity and the like to see if anyone's staying in a household they don't usually stay in (this dates from the early 70s).

Those of us who say "we have rights" and "they wouldn't do that" would be well advised to review what happened with the miners' strikes in the 1980s, including what we were told at the time, what many of us thought and what actually happened from the records released 30 years later.

martinusher Silver badge

What's a "Human Right"?

The cynic in me regards the notion of "Human Rights" as being something that was invented back in Cold War time to differentiate "us" (the good guys) from "them" (the bad guys). Although many people take this sort of thing seriously in practice it requires a huge leap of faith about the relationship between the citizen and their government. Few countries have this as explicitly spelled out as the US where the Constitution is pretty explicit about what can and can't be done. This doesn't stop generations of lawyers in 'angels on head of pin mode' debating endlessly how to somehow prove that the interests of the state always trump those of the individual.

In a country like the UK where rights have never really been spelled out its comparatively easy to set up databases on the population and collect lots of useful information. One that's really in your face is ANPR; it should be a gross violation of a citizen's right to be tracked wherever they go but once again the lawyers can justify this ("driving is a privilege, not a right") and all those purely administrative tickets given to people who are 'the registered keeper' of a vehicle because its too much hassle to identify a human are just put up with. (We'd love to have this level of ANPR in the US but its requiring a lot more ingenuity to implement because of the Bill of Rights -- this won't stop it happening, just slow things down a bit.) Suddenly we're to assume that all those cameras, all that tracking and so on is a gross violation of one's Human Rights just because there's facial recognition -- ANPR for humans -- performed on those images. Well, that train left the station decades ago when you assumed that it was OK for humans to track individuals and so allowed widespread monitoring of the population. AFR is a fact, and like ANPR, its something everyone is going to have to learn to live with (and like ANPR its going to get better -- remember that 20 years ago you had to have specially formatted license plates in the UK to allow machine recognition; now the damn things are able to read US plates, including the fancy custom ones).

Ultimately its going to come down to who owns and uses that data. If the police service is a true service of the community then AFR could be a public good. If the police force acts like a force of occupation, "dominating the streets", then expect dystopia.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... but not your H-1B geeks, L-1 staffers nor J-1 students

martinusher Silver badge

Re: L-1

Its not STEM graduates** that were impacted by the Indian tech worker scam (yes, that one definitely is a scam).

The rules for issuing non-resident work visas were that you had to pay a competitive salary and there were no Americans available to do those jobs. Applying for an overseas hire required 'labor certification' which meant that you had to advertise the job locally for a set period to show that there were no qualified applicants. This was easy to do back when getting an H1 required a postgraduate degree and significant work experience but as this morphed into the H-1B program the bar for entry was lowered, the ability to be employed by a contracting company without a definite placement was added and the whole displacing US workers got lost in the wash (resulting in whole departments being laid off so that cheap import labor could be used instead).

The current mess is a knee jerk reaction to something that's long been overdue for tightening up. The result, though, is that there's inordinate amounts of collateral damage (about par for this administration). Just don't lose sight of the fact it was caused by people gaming the system.

(**BTW -- STEM graduates should not need H1-B visas as the student visa used to allow graduates to get 'work experience' for a couple of years after graduating. That's how most of my foreign colleagues got their Green Cards after attending college.)

Belief in 5G conspiracy theories goes hand-in-hand with small explosions of rage, paranoia and violence, researchers claim

martinusher Silver badge

Re: We have our own US-based All-American 5G Conspiracy Theory!

The lack of 5G lunacy in the US may be more to do with the lack of 5G. It effectively doesn't exist except as a handful of ineffective pilot programs in large cities and a marketing icon on some upscale phones.

Some cynics might even suggest that the Administration's targeting of a certain Chinese communication company may be due to a lack of any US presence in the 5G equipment supply chain. (In other words, all this 'national security' / 'spying' / 'Chinese communist party' stuff is just BS for the rubes.)

Sure is wild that Apple, Google app store monopolies are way worse than what Windows got up to, sniffs Microsoft prez

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Stores might suck, proprietary protocols are the real killer

Well said that person!

> Sending sodding text messages back and forward.

As an engineer my primary job function is to 'manage complexity' -- I have to take complex concepts and reduce them to implementable and testable components. This is the polar opposite of what large software companies do. Microsoft has been a prime offender since the very beginning, it started life taking relatively simple pieces of code and wrapping them up in such a way that they appeared complex. I don't know if this was deliberate -- programmers on the whole seem to worship complexity -- but its been very profitable because there's no money to be made from a thing that just does a job after the first sale.

The problem with this approach is while it keeps the money flowing it gradually implodes under its own entropy -- more and more noise, less and less information. Due to a historical accident I often find myself having to use software toolsets from the early to mid 90s and they're just as effective at developing systems today as they were 30 years ago. This doesn't mean I'm stuck in the past, far from it, but you get a perspective about just how much of what we use everyday is just noise. Pretty noise maybe, but still noise.

(....and Microsoft still hasn't figured out USB.....)

Latest Xeons land in new Huawei server despite looming US ban

martinusher Silver badge

Re: > 18 months stockpile of essential chips

It requires a special kind of hubris to think that what the US government is doing is going to bring Huawei, and by extension China, to its knees.

I have been frustrated and annoyed by our (US) government's behavior towards the Chinese. A few years they were happy to be global citizens -- buccaneering sorts, its true but then not fundamentally different from anyone else. As fully vested partners in the global supply chain they were both buying and selling, making money coming and going and spending it freely around the world. A formidable competitor, but nothing we couldn't deal with if we were prepared to exert ourselves. We didn't -- a couple of companies may have seen their monopolies threatened, they've got the ear of someone who knows someone and suddenly its war. A Trade War, to be precise, but still war.

Anyone who knows anything about the history of China will know that the Chinese aren't going to be beaten by anyone and certainly not a gang of Western Imperialists. So now we're locked in a struggle we can't win and they are not going to lose. It may take time but they will develop the missing technologies and in doing so they will destroy what leverage we had left globally. (Nice going, Mr. MAGA!)

Soft power is a powerful tool if you know how to use it.

The girl with the dragnet tattoo: How a TV news clip, Insta snaps, a glimpse of a tat and a T-shirt sold on Etsy led FBI to alleged cop car arsonist

martinusher Silver badge

Bit slow on the uptake?

While I was visiting the UK some years ago -- 2011, I believe -- some riots broke out that (over a police shooting) which went on for several days. If I recall correctly the police collected a large amount of video from these riots and used this to systematically identify and prosecute people involved -- thousands of them. This, and other instances of video information being used like the prompt identifcation of the 7/7 attackers suggest that surveillance and identification of suspects is rountine in England and is probably used extensively a decade later.

The US tends to be a bit behind the UK and there are certain problems (the "Bill of Rights", for example) with introducing the sort of automated policing that you get with your traffic cameras but where there's a will there's eventually a workaround. I have no doubt that larger police departments are routinely using facial recognition technology, for example, but I also recognize that using it mechanically UK style will invite a backlash. So, yes, this is probably the tip of the iceberg; it should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks that they'er anonymous that there definitely is not safety in numbers.

Living up to its 'un-carrier' slogan, T-Mobile US stops carrying incoming calls, data in nationwide outage

martinusher Silver badge

Look on the bright side....

I wondered where today's batch of Spam calls had got to ..... its been so quiet......

(OK -- I'd old school. Just plain old if you prefer. I can go 24 hours without getting a phone call or message and survive. It can be done.)

ZFS co-creator boots 'slave' out of OpenZFS codebase, says 'casual use' of term is 'unnecessary reference to a painful experience'

martinusher Silver badge

Re: experienced any discrimination, hardship or oppression in their personal (...) lives.

>So one experience of discrimination makes you qualified to comment on white on black racism.

Even a casual study of British social history would show that British discrimination is based entirely on class, not race. That doesn't mean that there's no racists, they're everywhere, but there's no institutional racism as such. The baked in discrimination is based entirely on your social standing -- color doesn't come into it.

The kind of institutional racism that's endemic in much of the US is very different from the UK, the closest that you'll find is the systematic oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland a generation or more ago. Its probably caused by taking another oppressed group and giving them the whip hand over a second group -- poor white Protestants get to kick poor white Catholics. The same mindset -- and people -- placed in a society where there's no restraint on their behavior led to the situation that's still common in the US (for, as you'd know if you lived here, its not being 'black' that's the problem, its 'being black and not knowing your place' -- a cook or janitor in the White House is fine, but President.......).

Facebook's cool with sharing the President's nonsense on its mega-platform – but don't you dare mention 'unionize' in its Workplace app

martinusher Silver badge

>Churchill was instrumental in bringing down people like Goebbels, wasn't he?

Churchill was no friend of the working man (or woman). It just goes to show that "its complicated" -- trying to come up with simplistic solutions to complex problems invariably misses the point. Churchill became an outsider in the 20s and 30s because he regarded fascism as a threat at a time when a lot of 'the ruling classes' (for want of a better term) were cosying up to them because the ideology offered the promise of a disciplned workforce without the inconvenience of trades unions and politics like socialism. Its actually not that much different today but as most people focus on the street theater of the 30s -- the uniforms, the torchlight processions and so on -- they miss the important poltiical and economic similarities between now and that period. Anyway, ordinary people in the UK were not happy with Fascists, there was a sort of loose coalition of anti-fascists (a bit like today's 'antifa') which was getting increasingly militant because of the UK's ruling classes tendency to appease the fascists so when the time came for a break with those sorts in May 1940 Churchill turned out to be the right person at the right time.

Incidentally, most Nazi officials, especailly the lower echelons, were Little Brtain sorts (obviously "Little Germany"......) but that doesn't mean that there weren't really clever Nazis out there. Goebbels was one, he was a master propagandist. Heydrich was another, a brilliant young up and coming type, really competent and totally amoral ( and definitely not the sort of person you'd allow near the seat of power in modern Britain, surely?).

Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Advertent FUD

The bypass that you can use in these fridges is for setups that have an under sink filter that also supplies drinking water to a small faucet. The leak thing is a joke because if you get a leak its going to be outside the fridge. Under sink filters are themselves a bit of a scam, you can spend upwards of $180 a pop for a filter cartridge.

Most tapwater in the US is good quality. Where its bad its usually so bad that a domestic filter won't do any good, you'll have to buy bottled water or get used to the weirdest tasting coffee. A water filter is sometimes useful for removing residual chlorine, that's bad for coffee, but you're unlikely to need it. Many states require the water supplier to test the water at regular intervals and publish the results.

Speaker for yourself: Looks like 5 patents are table stakes as Google countersues Sonos

martinusher Silver badge


The idea of broadcasting media to players in different rooms of a house isn't new. I first did this decades ago using a low power FM transmitter and old school boomboxes with the audio source eventually being a streaming devices over time. Extending this to networked devices was a logical step when that technology became avaialble. I still use Logitech (Slim Devices) Squeezebox radios, devices which have been capable of costreaming from the outset although this was first conceived as a way of pairing mono devices to get stereo. These were first on sale over a decade ago.

Amazon offers multi-room audio with their Echo speakers (also stereo pairing for their Echo Studio units).

Facebook boffins bake robo-code converter to take the pain out of shifting between C++, Java, Python

martinusher Silver badge

Coversion costs?

The way this is written implies that the $750 milliom spent converting a code base from COBOL to Java was merely line by line translating of the source. I don't have any knowledge of this project but based on my experience the transation would be taken as an opportunity to upgrade the systems and its functionality. That is, the 'conversion' was really a system rewrite with all the complexity in design, coding, integration and testing that would entail.

Bloke rolls up to KFC drive-thru riding horse-drawn cart only to be told: Neigh

martinusher Silver badge

Good for the roses....

Arm wrestle round two: Chinese outpost says it's fired the replacement CEO foisted on it by HQ

martinusher Silver badge

Hate Trump?

Come on, its nothing to do with 'hating' Trump and 'liking' Xi.

As an American citizen I have certain negative opinions about Trump, opinions which are shared by a large number of my fellow citizens. His hard core of supporters regard this as 'hate' and cite this reason why he's an incompetent clown is merely that people like me don't worship the very ground he steps on. The rest of us count the days off until November.

Xi doesn't affect us in any way, shape or form. China is an independent country that's become a formidable competitor for markets that we've been used to controlling. Our response hasn't been to up our game but instead spend all our effort and resources on trying to bring them down short of full scale nuclear war. This is a sign of weakness -- the more effort we spend on this the further behind we will get.

Count how many times the Feds checked Chinese telcos in America weren't spying. Only one hand needed

martinusher Silver badge

Re: "The vid-conferencing biz said it was following Beijing's laws"

>Um, question : how did Zoom know what was being discussed ?

The discussion was advertised in advance. (It was also open so I suppose anyone could have joined it, including people from the Chinese equivalent of the FBI.)

martinusher Silver badge

Not really news

Chinese telcos have been operating in the US for years but they've been low key because they primarily serve the community of Chinese ex-pats rather than the wider public. AFAIK they're like all lower tier providers, they resell bandwidth purchased from the major infrastructure owners.

(I don't have much confidence in my Federal government these days. They seem to be an outstanding example of what happens when you brew up a toxic mixture of ignorance and opportunism. We're supposed to swallow it unquestioningly.)

Huawei's latest smartphone for the UK market costs £1,299. And yes, that's without Google apps

martinusher Silver badge

No google?

>Without Google, the phone is next to useless.

Life without Google analytics is actually very relaxing. For that 'must have' Google map (which, surely, you can reach through a browser?) you can carry a burner phone.

1200 pounds for a phone -- any phone -- is a bit steep. For that money I'd expect it to come with its own security guard.

Microsoft unshackles WSL2 Linux kernel from Windows 10 image for future fettling via Windows Update

martinusher Silver badge

Re: It's not an OS

Realistically you can't have two kernels running on one processor (a hypervisor is just a subkernel that runs the virtual OS kernels as tasks under it). So what is it?

Is it a Windows kernel running a Linux emulation (Cygwin on steroids) or a Linux kernel running Windows OS services (Wine on steroids). If the answer is 'both' then its likely that what is really running is 'a mess'.

The only reason for running Windows is the proprietary applications environment that runs on top of it. Its embedded in business, generations of IT support staff are drilled in its Voodoo and so on. It is a bit unwieldy to use outside of this ecosystem -- you don't have to be a Linux fanboi to know this -- and as its a bit of an architectural dog's breakfast I'd guess -- maybe even hope -- that Microsoft has seen the light and is moving steadily towards taking the step Apple did years ago with OSX. That is, putting all their proprietary stuff on top of a properly designed kernel where it keeps business happy and allows the rest of us to get on with useful work.

(As for VMS and so on -- some years ago in the NT world Microsoft had a POSIX compliant kernel down there that was actually really useful. For a brief moment in time there was an actual OS down there. That got superseded buy Heaven only knows what. Meanwhile we're saddled with an arcane filesystem that still thinks that physical devices are relevant to the filesystem structure (kludged up, of course, but those floppies and the hard drive are still there....), a pathname structure that's incompatible with the rest of the world and a device driver structure that are for the most part 'amusing'. What's not to like?)

US senators propose $22bn fund for new fabs on American soil because making stuff is better than designing stuff

martinusher Silver badge

Re: It's not the building or the hardware ..

I suppose the choice of Arizona -- the Phoenix metro area, in other words -- is due to it having a history of semiconductor design and fabrication so there's already a skills base to draw on. But that skills base is already employed and this place is probably one of the most awful places to live in the US -- its a vast metro area with inadequate infrastructure and a climate that has to be experienced to be believed (especially in summer).

Russia drags NASA: Enjoy your expensive SpaceX capsule, our Soyuz is the cheap Kalashnikov of rockets

martinusher Silver badge

You've got it backwards

The big cheese at Roscosmos actually said something along the lines of the people who needed to be worried about compeititon from SpaceX wasn't Roscosmos but rather Boeing. The Russians have a reliable product, a medium lift vehicile that can get stuff to and from the ISS. His remarks about the cost come from the difference in cost between a smaller and relatively cheaper single use booster and a larger, reusable, booster.

SpaceX's kit is very neat and I think we can all agree that landing the boosters for reuse is really cool. It would be naive to think that others haven't taken notice and are seriously looking into landing rockets.

Germany to fund development of edge CPUs as part of 'tech you can trust' plan to home-brew more kit

martinusher Silver badge

Its not necessarily the Chinese you need to be worried about

The last few years have seen the established global supply chain derailed by nationalist politics and it wasn't the Chinese that did it. The Americans led the way by weaponizing trade flows and supply chains, a move designed to maintain an outdated global hegemony and to further a domestic political agenda. This means that a country or region has two options, either become a sort of US satellite or foster enough independent capability not only as a hedge against further global turmoil but to act as a deterrent to further disruptive actions.

Domestically -- in the US -- we have to alter our political mindset before it damages us. We won't disappear, we're too big for that to happen, but we will see successive shocks to our economy which will further erode our prosperity (much of which is illusory for the majority of the population). We have to be an effective global competitor, not anf 800lb gorilla with a raging hedache.

China's silicon-self-sufficiency plan likely to miss targets due to Factories Not Present error

martinusher Silver badge

Re: CPU architecture

Not making x86 architecture chips may prove to be a compatitive advantage. This architecturei is long past its sell-by date but it persists because its so widely used. If anything happened to force widespread adoption of an alternative then it may find itself in a serious competitive disadvantage.

Its also an emulated processor -- it emulates the x86 instuction set on a lower level processor. This makes it unsuitable for a lot of high performance computing tasks.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Yes and no

>massive facilities staffed by tens of thousands of highly skilled individuals

One thing the Chinese have are tens of thousands of highly skilled individuals. Its difficult for us to get to grips with the scale of China, its so much larger than even the US that even its middle class is largert han the entire US population. (....and I daresay that most of the UK's population would get swallowed up in one urban area).

The reason why China hasn't been focused on chip manufacture is that until recently it was a fully vested partner in the global supply chain. It imported parts from foreigh companies and turned those parts into products that it exported. It was the way that the globalized economy was supposed to work. The US has always liked to maintain a strangle hold on certain technologies through its ITAR regulations but the Trump regime has rachedted up the stakes by weaponizing trade flows. This disruption of supply chains will slow things down a bit but it will eventually cause the supply chains to readjust, and when they do it will be to the detriment of the US. Nobody likes unreliable partners.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes: UK man gets 3 years for torching 4G phone mast over 5G fears

martinusher Silver badge

Re: That may be true

The architcture of mobile communications is built on the idea that you don't need to rely on any one mast. So even if the 'two firelighters and a pair of cotton gloves' had destroyed the mast it wouldn't -- shouldn't -- knock out service for anyone. It might inconvenience people because they're Instagram's a tad slow but that's about it.

I have a real issue with the forces of law 'n order hyping things up for the ignoranti. Sure, torching masts is stupid, it displays a very special breed of gullability and stupidity, but the people involved need help with their mental issues, not being stuck in jail for years. (After all, apart from them being likely to get infected with Covid-19 in a guranteed 5G free environment what will it do?)

City of Los Angeles sued for tracking rental scooter rides – that's the rideshare company's job says EFF and ACLU

martinusher Silver badge

But they're our streets

Scooters are -- to use traditional English parlance -- a "Mechanically Propelled Vehicle". As such they're regulated by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV isn't as anal about tagging everything with a motor as a formal motor vehicle requiring plates, registration and what-have-you but its still a vehicle that's being used on public roads. Our roads. The city isn't being unreasonable monitoring them; they' ahve an interest in local traffic and an organization, LADoT, that manages it (you mostly encounter it giving out parking tickets but it does do a number of other things).

If you desire scooter privacy then scoot in your own private space.



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