* Posts by martinusher

3618 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Feb 2015

Kremlin's Sandworm blamed for cyberattacks on US, European water utilities

martinusher Silver badge

It used to be that it just needed a new washer

I'd guess the 'overflowing water tank' was one of those you find a lot of in the Midwest that's like an onion on a stick that usually has the name of the community painted on it. Its not a whole lot different that the water tank found in the loft of many UK homes, the one that invariably gets a leaky valve at some inconvenient time.

Obviously a community water tank is rather larger scale but the same principle applies. Water is pumped into the tank until it gets to a certain level, then its shut off. This might involve one or more level sensors and a simple PLC but it certainly shouldn't involve the Internet, much less anything that could be hacked. If a system is vulnerable, due to a Windows based SCADA system for example, then the solution is obvious (Windows in this type of industrial application is never going to be up to date ever so you have to come up with a protection strategy that's a bit more sophisticated than the Patch Tuesday crapshoot).)

ASML profits plunge 40% amid dip in chipmaking tool orders

martinusher Silver badge

Kind of predictable

They've been not the only losers in our trade war. Other semiconductor companies have seen a drop in sales, Apple's lost out with iPhone sales and so on.

I believe it was someone from Xylinx who remarked that sanctions now have a life of their own. Its the problem with creating a bureaucracy; it doesn't know when to stop, indeed it can't stop. Just think what we could do if we put all that energy into creating competitive products. But we have a better plan -- the latest is to "triple tariffs" on metals imported from China; think of it as an indirect taxpayer subsidy to our rump industrial base.

Whistleblower cries foul over alleged fuselage gaps in Boeing 787 Dreamliner

martinusher Silver badge

Possibly saying the wrong thing

Having Boeing coming out with a statement like "....issues raised have been subject to rigorous engineering examination under FAA oversight. This analysis has validated that these issues do not present any safety concern..." doesn't exactly fill me with confidence, it evokes more a sense of dread. Because "of course" Boeing aircraft have been subject to rigorous examination under FAA oversight but despite this they've demonstrated a pattern of quality and design issues. So a slightly more humble statement would have been reassuring -- after all, the 'battery issues' that the 787 had when it was first put into service were something that was well known to anyone who worked with early lithium batteries but it took Boeing a handful of fires before they realized they needed to take appropriate precautions.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Glad I'm retired

Why pick on Scunthorpe? There's lots of other places equally or even more deserving of derision -- see the "Crap Towns" series on youTube.

I like traveling by train. Its just that in our part of the world Amtrak is more 'entertainment' than 'transportation'. Its partly historical but its also a distance thing -- I don't think there's too many local trains that ply a 300 mile long route. We're trying to fix this in California but our travails making a high speed rail route makes HS2 look like a paragon of forward planning and implementation efficiency.

FYI: This site claims to have harvested 4B+ Discord chats, today all yours for a price

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Value?

(She's turned up over here (US) trying to sell herself. I'm not sure what, exactly, she's selling but it involved "endorsing Trump" so draw your own conclusions.)

martinusher Silver badge

Isn't there a copyright issue?

Material I post is strictly speaking a creative work of mine, I own it and its copyright. By posting it to a site I implicitly assign the copyright to the site owner, its the quid pro quo -- I get to post stuff for others to see and the site owner gets to benefit from my -- and millions of other's -- postings.

(Here we can insert cynical comments about the value of individual posts etc. etc.)

In the US we then have this notion of 'fair use' which would allow people to quote from and otherwise reference my material. What this doesn't cover is the exploitation of my information by third parties. (In theory we've got some control over how our stuff gets used by the site owner.) Anyway, as far as I'm concerned people offering this information are actually selling stolen goods.....

China orders its telcos to rip and replace US chips with homegrown silicon by 2027

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Expensive

The practice of 'sharing technology' isn't confined to China. Forty years ago it was the same with Japan.

>Easy: exploiting millions of rural workers coming to town and skipping R&D budgets.

China is educating 35,000 engineers a year. I've worked with Chinese engineers and when they're good they're very, very, good indeed. (Just imagine how well you'd get on in the workplace if come next Monday morning all your communication had to be in Mandarin.)

>True, Russian speaking trolls will need to work on their putonghua as Russia falls into China's orbit.

I've also worked with Russians. Some of them look quite Chinese. Its because there's really no hard and fast boundary between "European" Slavs and "Chinese" easterners. In the border are you get Chinese Russians and Russian Chinese. Its how the world works -- assuming you don't spend your life on an island. (Russia's also got a border with Korea, BTW.)

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Expensive

From reading the article I don't think its quite "rip and replace" so much as "don't consider American sourced parts when choosing kit for a normal replacement cycle". Its a pure economic retaliation rather than the fig leaf of 'national security' that we're sold here.

It will have an effect on future revenues since China is a large and important market. While replacing Intel/AMD parts won't happen overnight the writing's already on the wall -- you can see that there's going to be a national shift from Windows and Windows based software running on Intel/AMD towards OS's like Harmony and Chinese versions of Linux running on locally designed platforms. The danger for us is that these technologies will be available for export and a lot of the 'rest of the world' is going to jump at the opportunity to get off the Wintel treadmill.

Healthcare AI won't take jobs – it'll make nursing easier, says process automation founder

martinusher Silver badge

We know what's going to happen....

...because its happened before. The machine will replace the 'skill' in 'skilled labor' just leaving the 'labor'. You can't really take the human element out of nursing, the patients aren't suitable candidates for self-serve (although AI might stop them become patients in the first place) so you'll just end up with a lot of unskilled or semi-skilled people along with enough (semi-skilled or unskilled) management to police their attendance and behavior.

This is already a reality in fields like fast food and retail. In theory you could get rid of the humans entirely but you need a minimum number to keep 'shrinkage' under control.

Open source versus Microsoft: The new rebellion begins

martinusher Silver badge

Re: The broader context

Business schools seem to have more in common with a seminary than a pure educational institution. You don't get to join 'management' -- aka 'the brethren' -- unless you're a MBA graduate and you don't get your MBA unless you're a believer. So like any religion it can perpetuate any myth. Unfortunately unlike a religion there's real world consequences from its thought so if there's a problem with that thought then it will show up in 'reality'. The trick then would be to root out all heresy, to clear the corporation, the country or even the globe of dissenting ideas.

US senator wants to put the brakes on Chinese EVs

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Popcorn icon needed

Tesla might be thought of as an American company but they have much more manufacturing capability overseas now. Including in China. From a purely business perspective it would make sense to shed the US workforce.

This is how capitalism works, folks -- its all about RoI. Tesla is going to be just like every other automaker, producing cars where it makes the most financial and political sense (so they'll retain some capacity in the US, just like everybody else).

Whether or not this is the right way to run a society.....well, its been drilled into us since birth that There Is No Alternative, only capitalism can yield the best products at the lowest prices for consumers etc. etc. Its just that real life doesn't work like Econ101....

Loongson CPU that performs like 2020 Core i3 makes its way to Chinese mini PCs

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Probably not exactly a bargain.

Missing here is both the narrative and the protectionism that grew out of 1980s Japan eating our industrial lunch, so as to speak. We forced Japan to deflate and effectively stagnate -- they were allowed to compete but only on our terms.

China is a whole different game. Partly because its a whole lot bigger and partly because its not interested in playing our financial games (unless there's something in it for them).

Remember, what we call "freedom and democracy" is really NewSpeak for "financialization sucks the life out of an economy".

Apple stops warning of 'state-sponsored' attacks, now alerts about 'mercenary spyware'

martinusher Silver badge

Very NewSpeak, that

I'd guess that because Pegasus was sold by an 'ally' and used to spy on people in allied nations you can't just trot out the usual 'state-sponsored' line that fingers the usual suspects.

Space Force boss warns 'the US will lose' without help from Musk and Bezos

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I guess it's a plan. Kinda. Sorta. If you squint.

It may have escaped your notice but we (the US) bankrupted ourselves at the same time. The difference between Russia and the US today is that we're now literally up to our eyeballs in debt and they're not. We've only been able to maintain that position because our currency is used for global commerce -- we can print it and others effectively pick up the tab. We then weaponized it, forcing others to find ways to avoid using it, a process that won't happen overnight but will demote our currency to 'just another piece of paper'.

Anyway, both Russia and China are quite good and launching stuff into space. The only edge we have is re-usability (thanks, SpaceX) and its only a matter of time before someone else figures it out. (My money's on China.....but I wouldn't count out the Russians just yet).

Where there's a will, there's Huawei to develop one's own chipmaking kit

martinusher Silver badge

All sanctions did was mess with the build/buy tradeoff. Back before we started this trade war the Chinese were busy developing global businesses using global supply chains with companies buying what it didn't make business sense to build. Once we made it difficult for them to buy then it makes business sense to build. Its what we call in the US a "National Security" issue -- its a bit like our CHIPs legislation except they've got a whole lot more resources they can invest and mobilize than us.

Our hubris makes it difficult to conceive that they can achieve what they need to do. Of course they will. It might take a bit of time but, again, its a "National Security" issue, they have no alternative but to succeed. The danger for us that they're going to be producing next generation technology -- they know all the shortcomings and deficiencies of current processes, the sort of thing that creeps into any complex development, and will design them out.

martinusher Silver badge

Look at the papers being published, the patents being filed and so on -- Chinese people are everywhere. This old saw about "they don't invent, they just copy us" is just racist nonsense. If you look around a typical high tech company in, say, California (where I live/work) then you'll find that many -- often, most -- of the workforce are either from China or of Chinese descent.

Honestly, people need to get out more.

(PS -- The Russians are not so much of a contender because there's only 150 million or so of them. They're still capable of doing really good work, though.)

martinusher Silver badge

Quite apart from the fact you do some really good work with smaller processors (which are likely to be RISC-V anyway) the Chinese have been doing quite well with small geometry semiconductors.

The thing we don't see to get is that there's not only a lot of 'em but they're also educating as many as possible -- they're turning out about 35,000 engineers a year. They're not all going to be designing semiconductors or process equipment but since their industrial policy aims to develop higher value jobs there's a good chance that they will become a very significant competitor in the very near future.

We're going to lose out simply because we don't have an industrial policy. We expect a trained workforce to just materialize out of thin air. This isn't how things work, we've only got away with it because we've had all the money so if you want to start an enterprise here (the US and especially CA) has been the place to be. We've got competition now -- China's got the capital, the infrastructure and resources to move at speed. We have to have the same focus -- just saying "its not fair" because they've got the focus while we'll playing casino games in our financial markets isn't going to work.

Irish power crunch could be prompting AWS to ration compute resources

martinusher Silver badge

Resource Depletion -- again

In an unrelated story there's a problem because the Colorado river's water is greatly oversubscribed -- due to careless allocation maybe a century ago all the users have a legal right to more water than the river can produce. (....ad its a really big river) So all of us are going to have to tighten our belts etc.etc.etc. Then it turns out that a bit under half of the river's water is being used to grow hay for export, hay that's intended for beef cattle.

Ireland has an adequate electricity supply for its population. A supply that's largely provided by a single hydroelectric source. Should be a good time for all, people can get on with their lives with one less thing to worry about. Commercial users move in because power's cheap and ostensibly plentiful. They ramp up demand until it starts topping supply -- because, as we all know, all you need to get infinite power is to be able to pay the bill when its due. The first reaction is to let loose the PR and lobbyists, to tell us all how naughty we are for using too much and how we have to cut our consumption. They are the equivalent of the people growing hay in the desert -- they're mooching off others' resources because all that matters is whether you've got the money to flash to pay for what you want and the political clout to make sure that only the questions you want are asked (and answered).

H-1B visa fraud alive and well amid efforts to crack down on abuse

martinusher Silver badge

Re: When did the change happen?

You used to have to prove there were no suitable applicants by advertising the job and collating the replies. Writing the job description so that no applications would be received was a bit of an art form but not too difficult for the sheer imbalance between qualifications and actual job requirements.

I wouldn't work for one of those outsourcing companies even if they did offer me a job because they're used to treating their employees like crap. But the mere fact you applied means that you have to be considered. Here you might run at a bit of a disadvantage since my parents -- who used to work on the subcontinenet -- were well up to speed with the idea of a free market in qualifications, i.e. "If CIS needs paperwork "x" then "x" can be obtained for a price". Some immigration departments are up to this -- the UK seems to be on top of dubious qualifications from even more dubious schools -- but its definitely a Whack-a-Mole job, you get one and a dozen more pop up.

BTW -- Coming to the US for work isn't what it used to be.

martinusher Silver badge

When did the change happen?

I came over to the US on an H-1 about 40 years ago and getting this visa wasn't a matter of winning a lottery. I had to have significant skills in my field -- a postgraduate degree plus significant work experience -- and my employer had to not only demonstrate that they couldn't hire locally and they were willing to pay me the same as they'd pay an American citizen. Although this sounds like a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy it wasn't that difficult to sort out -- I was recruited by a small company along with a lot of other British people, many of us going on to get immigrant visas and eventually US citizenship.

So when did the change happen and why isn't anyone surprised that the entire system has been gamed from top to bottom?

US insurers use drone photos to deny home insurance policies

martinusher Silver badge

Re: A physical visit is a lot more reliable

Our house has more in common with a British garden shed than a British house. But its designed to survive earthquakes, a natural phenomena that's not at all common in the UK. (....it does happen, BTW).

The problem here is that developers don't build where its safe, they build where its most profitable, People then buy the houses and expect insurance companies and/or the government to pick up the tab when there's a natural disaster. Here the major risk factors are earthquakes, floods and fires. They don't cover quakes or floods -- quake insurance is through a state backed insurance fund, flood insurance through a federal insurance fund -- so this leaves wildfires. Here to avoid discrimination the state mandated that insurance premiums should be consistent between houses of similar type and size regardless of where they are. This has led to significant losses because people like to purchase property in sylvan surroundings which, around here, is like building in a bonfire. So they've started getting quite picky about who they'll cover and they're pulling out of states where they can't vary premium based on risk. (It also doesn't help that rebuilding costs have gone through the roof.)

Incidentally, earthquake coverage is not only quite expensive but has a very high deductable so a lot of people don't buy it.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: A physical visit is a lot more reliable

>Three-Time F1 World Champ Max Verstappen denied rental AMG because he’s too young:

Driving on a track and driving on the road are two very different skill sets.

FWIW Our daughter got a pilot's license when she was at high school -- a teen flier as well as a teen driver. Shortly after getting her license she flew with her mother to a wedding one Friday afternoon -- it was either rent a plane or drive across the Los Angeles basin. Renting a plane to a teenager -- no problem. Driving a rental car at the other end --- that's not going to happen, rules is rules.

Cloud vendor lock-in is shocking, but there's a get out of jail card

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Why not have cloud.gov.uk ?

Yanis Varoufakis explains why you can't have a non-US major cloud company in his book "Technofeudalism" although his commentary is actually about Tiktoc. He's the first person to coherently articulate why the US government has gone after ByteDance, Huawei and other non-captive tech firms and ( surprise!) its nothing to do with "national security". Put simply, its all about the balance of payments; we need revenue inflows to counter the outflows due to our import inbalance and anything that threatens key companies gets hit.

This type of protectionism isn't new; what's novel is the revenue extraction model where the monopoly is in the tools needed for others to actually do the productive work. Its like sharecropping but in the cyber world.

A cheeky intern nearly turned MS-DOS into NSFW-DOS

martinusher Silver badge

Re: The good old days

Then as now the code's not monolithic so it shouldn't be treated as such. Or designed to operate as such.

As for the "wasn't invited back" this is a typical ham-fisted management response. Yes, the code is puerile but at least it demonstrates that he** understands command line switches. Anyway, interns usually grow up and part of this process involves someone who's a bit older and hopefully wiser telling them to "knock it off".

(**'Better than 99.99% chance its a 'he'!)

Microsoft warns that China is using AI to stir the pot ahead of US election

martinusher Silver badge

Re: >> BS that's served up by our "leaders"

Yes, I always vote. At the national level it may come down to the lesser of evils. At the state and local level it makes a difference.

I have also been an election worker since becoming a citizen. The system's now changed, being mostly vote by mail, but before that I used to be the Precinct Inspector, the person responsible for the operation of the polling place. You can't even begin to have a democracy unless people participate and all this "I never vote" BS is designed to suppress key demographics.

martinusher Silver badge

Unlikely, because....

....the kind of disinformation that spews from our politicians and pundits is already so detached from reality that "you couldn't make this stuff up".

The rot really started being noticeable during the Dubya ("Bush 2") Administration with that famous press conference where one of the senior Administration officials -- Rumsfeld or Cheney, I can't recall which, came out with the "We make our own reality" line. The context was the war in Afghainistan and/or Iraq and the sense being conveyed being that the US is so big and powerful that we're able to dictate what reality is. Quite apart from this showing appalling hubris it also doesn't make sense logically.

There are people out there who do seem to have a handle on what's going on who are not born and bred conspiracy theorists** but they tend to be very much in the background. I suppose like any giant corporation you don't get on in the organization by being contrarian (especially if you are proved right).

(**However, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me")

Anyway, as a US voter I'm not aware of being swayed by any Chinese, Russian or Martian propaganda. I do try to avoid wading through the swamp of BS that's served up by our "leaders".

What can be done to protect open source devs from next xz backdoor drama?

martinusher Silver badge

First and most fundamental question

Everyone seems to just assuming that upgrading a piece of code is normal so they just ask themselves "what kind of bureaucracy can be introduce to stop this from happening?". To me, that's the wrong question.

The first question is "Why are you changing that library?" Was it to fix a critical bug? Was it to add another component?

The next question is "What kind of test strategy are you using to verify that the library functionality hasn't changed?"

The third question is "If you're adding new functionality then why does it need to be in this existing library?"

This practice of constantly changing code, often for trivial or cosmetic reasons is commonplace these days , as is the practice of so integrating the build process that its not easy to isolate functional modules for testing. Its seems that its common practice to just build something and if it compiles and seems to work then it gets released without any further testing. This is asking for trouble and certainly explains why, for example, Windows is so unstable. Since Microsoft has started to 'embrace' open source by taking over GitHub I've noticed this kind of squirt and pray methodology all over the place -- its not that the code is 'complicated', its because we've failed to make it simple. Errors will creep in and its a crapshoot whether we notice them before they cause any damage.

Obviously, what the big monopolies would like would be to add keys to everything with them as the keyholders. I daresay that everyone will be duly surprised by this in due course.

UK govt office admits ability to negotiate billions in cloud spending curbed by vendor lock-in

martinusher Silver badge

Re: shocked

>madcap marxist unelectability.

That's propaganda in action for you. Marx was a mid-19th century economist who accurately summed up the interaction of economic forces but never developed a political strategy around them apart from vague pronouncements like "Workers of the world unite (etc.)". What we know as communism was developed much later. However, the notion of "Marxist" this and that has been inculcated into people as a sort of "four legs good, two legs bad" mindset, I've seen it applied to all sorts of things (especially in the US where we're told that Marxism is behind gender fluidity, among other things!).

Anyway, the effect of all this TINA -- "There Is No Alternative" -- which thanks to a compliant media meant that anyone who dared to even raise the slightest possibility of an alternative was vilified (and occasionally jailed). The Labour party was split into the 'moderates' -- the "Social Democratic and Labour Party" and the so-called "extremists", the rump of traditional Labour. Trades unions were suppressed, violently and often in violation of the law (very flexible in the UK). The result was a toothless pseudo-Conservative party, what we could call "LINO" ("Labour in Name Only"). The practice continues even today -- witness what happened to Corbyn and the whole anti-semetic witch hunt thing (so the leadership of the Labour party got transferred back into safe hands once more).

This crap goes back a lot further than Thatcher. I'm only old enough to remember the Wilson administration (sorry, I left the UK for the US because of Thatcher so I'm going to switch languages) and the fallout from it trying to follow policies that were intended to favor the UK, its economy and particularly its industry.

404 Day celebrates the internet's most infamous no-show

martinusher Silver badge

Its worse than you could imagine....

These three digit codes were invented because it was necessary to convert TCP -- a stream protocol -- back into a datagram protocol. It was a kludge that was first developed for FTP and subsequently adopted by HTTP. All four hundreds are error codes. BTW.

The sheer inefficiency this kludge represents is difficult to convey -- its a product of people not understanding how networks and their underlying protocols work. Once you transfer traffic from Ethernet to something like 802.11 the inefficiency gets compounded. All this crap needs to get rationalized out ASAP -- Google's been working on it but I suspect its an uphill climb since I notice that people think that applications like curl are viable tools for regularly transferring files.

So I don't celebrate 404 or anything like that......since I'm not in Scotland I'm free to hate....hate...hate.....hate......

Iowa sysadmin pleads guilty to 33-year identity theft of former coworker

martinusher Silver badge

Its printed on the card that "Its not valid for identification". Doesn't stop people from demanding to see it, for example when applying for a "real ID" endorsement to a driver's licence.

Want to keep Windows 10 secure? This is how much Microsoft will charge you

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Year of Lunix desktop

Yes, I know that its all about "everything being written for Windows" -- I've experienced this myself many times because there's always something important that's written for Windows etc. But if you keep upping the pain level eventually people will hit that tipping point that you're always hearing about. For me,personally, it happened a long time ago when updates to Windows gradually made my little desktop unusable. Linux fixed this for me, I just have to use Windows for "one or two things". And its a serious pain to do so -- nothing ever seems to quite work as it should, you're always being upgraded and now you've got the "Our Windows 10 Journey is Coming to an End" thing (and, needless to say, that hulking great i7 box with 16MByte RAM and graphics processor isn't good enough to "upgrade").

The writing's been on the wall for some time. I got into this game when the only game in town was IBM, they had over 80% of the world market for computers. They refused to acknowledge the obvious so look at them now. Everyone complains about Windows but as "There Is No Alternative" they just put up with it. Eventually things will crack -- if they haven't done already -- and no amount of Windows-centric ("free") IDEs and clever Truman show-esque marketing tricks will save them. Windows is not an operating environment, its a collection of hacks and its really showing its age.

Feds finally decide to do something about years-old SS7 spy holes in phone networks

martinusher Silver badge

Designed for closed systems

Early protocols were designed for closed systems -- back in the 70s phone networks were operated by large, government sized, entities and who's logical and physical infrastructure was not just closed but secure. Opening these systems up to milk them for profits and profitability might have fitted the ideology of the 80s and 90s but like a lot of things that focused on the money small details like security were overlooked. Weakness with SS7 (for example) was known many decades ago but nobody was interested in making the investment that would be necessary to completely revamp it -- its always "someone else's job" or, ultimately, 'the government" (but whatever you do don't interfere with the cash machine because its now leveraged to the max, just patch the thing as best you can).

So don't fault the protocol. Fault greed and its attendant myopia.

Incidentally, Diameter was quite good at its job -- as designed and for its time. But that was literally decades ago.

Apple's GoFetch silicon security fail was down to an obsession with speed

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Am I glad I'm not that close to the metal

Its not that difficult, honest. Its just hardware engineering. One of the problems with hardware engineering is time -- its up there front and center with the actual logic, you can't have one without considering the other and, naturally, they usually work against each other. (If you're not used to this idea then just bear in mind a handful of things -- logic pulses are really not square, they take time to get from place to place and the things they feed don't just take a certain amount of time to operate, they take a range of times, for example.).

Anyway, I think I'll lay this one at the door of Marketing as usual. Engineers spend a lot of time trying to reconcile what's possible with what would be nice (the typically marketing pitch is "if you make something that does everything then we can sell lots" -- its rare that they truly understand tradeoffs). Human nature being what it is, though, you'll always find someone who will say "yes" to something best left alone, especially if they don't actually have to make it happen. Any engineering caveats will just get lost in the wash.

Ex-White House CIO tells The Reg: TikTok ban may be diplomatic disaster

martinusher Silver badge

Not quite a Chinese company

Although we all know that "TikToc is Chinese" in practice its not, at least not directly. Like many large corporations its multinational with ByteDance being owned mostly by international banks with the founders and employees retaining minority shares. I'd guess the founding IP and ongoing development are mostly, if not all, Chinese but this idea that its some some kind of puppet controlled directly from the Forbidden City in Bejing is absolute nonsense. I'm not Chinese so I don't know how workplaces are organized but I'd guess that the "Chinese Communist Party" thing is just noise since this is common in all Chinese companies. (Anyone from the PRC care to fill us in on what this is and how it works?)

What I do know is that as an American the text of this Bill is an admission of weakness and ignorance on our part which, when enacted (its an election year....) will have repercussions far beyond one company and one application. Like a lot -- most -- material pushed at us by our legislators its just noise that's used to disguise its true purpose. The best explanation for it for this attack is given by Yanis Varoufakis (in his book "Technofeudalism"), its explained in terms of modern international money flows where the revenue of "big technology" companies, almost exclusively owned by and controlled from inside the US, counterbalance the outflows due to chronic trade imbalances. This explanation not only makes sense logically but it also explains why our legislators are a bunch of useless morons** -- they're like prize farm animals managed by farmers/lobbyists, livestock to be fed, humored, led around by the nose and generally coddled so that they produce the desired results. (Reality, truth or what's best for the US -- who cares?)

(**Apologies to people with lower intellectual capacity....)

Hillary Clinton: 2024 will be 'ground zero' for AI election manipulation

martinusher Silver badge

Re: "those that can't take time off still have a chance to vote"

Making it inconvenient to vote is a common tactic in jurisdictions where you've got a clear demographic that you don't want voting. The most exaggerated case are places where you get long lines of people forced to line up in the sun and where you make it a criminal offense to provide them with water.

Voting in US elections has always been local. You'd have polling places staffed by local volunteers who'd use a school hall, a church meeting room or even someone's garage for the purpose. The county election officers' job would be to supervise, train officers and provide the materials. Mail-in ballots were administered alongside in-person voting and over time more and more people opted to do this. With Covid came the change (locally at least) to all mail-in ballots. Some states like Oregon are literally all mail-in, others like California retain an in-person option but because there aren't as many people voting in person the number of polling places in a county was reduced while removing the requirement to vote at a particular polling place.

In our state (CA) at least every effort is made to ensure that eligible voters can vote. We haven't made election days holidays (yet) but people are allowed paid time off to go vote. However, neither employers nor trades unions are allowed to actively help with balloting so they can't actively collect ballots (but as they can collect envelopes for mailing collecting mail in ballots along with other mail is fine).

(BTW -- We always have a minimum of three workers at a polling place because the rule is that under no circumstances are ballots to be left with a single person.)

How a single buck bought bragging rights in the battle to port Windows 95 to NT

martinusher Silver badge

...and ther's your problem, guv

There's a methodology for designing, building and bringing up complex software systems and it doesn't involve heaping everything together, hitting the 'go' button and then trying to make sense of reams of debug messages, dumps and what-have-you when the software eventually falls over (followed by piecemeal fixing code in the order of problem obviousness). Also, just because the code didn't crash, or "ran overnight" or "ran over the weekend" doesn't mean its working.

However, this kind of "hose the code at the wall and see what sticks" software debugging is also prevalent -- I've talked to innumerable programmers over the years about this and the general impression is that talking to a brick wall might be more productive. This seem partly because, like everything else computer related, the boundary between 'obvious' and 'incomprehensible' is vague and partly because management wants results, if not this morning definitely by the end of the day.

Pressuring allies not to fulfill chip kit service contracts with China now official US policy

martinusher Silver badge

Allies - or Vassals?

This kind of thing is embarrassing because it not only demonstrates weakness but also treats what should be peer nations not as allies -- partners in some military enterprise -- but rather as vassals ("do what we tell you or we will sanction you"). This is not only validating everything that competing states like Russia and China are saying about us but also providing a positive incentive for states outside our group of 'allies' to not get mixed up with us. It also sends the message that these states don't count, they have no choice other than to go along with our program -- or else.

The smart thing would be to stop tilting at windmills and learn to build better ones.

FTX crypto-crook Sam Bankman-Fried gets 25 years in prison

martinusher Silver badge

So he sold shady investments to willing suckers

Apart from the 'crypto' thing there's nothing new here, its just a classic case of confusing cash flow with income. The suckers come from the need to get in quick to make a killing, the stereotypical con artist victim.

Obviously there's a line between a 'legal' con and an 'illegal' con. I wonder if its just in the small print of the prospectus?

Execs in Japan busted for winning dev bids then outsourcing to North Koreans

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Just one question

Transferring cocaine or opiates like fentanyl across national borders is also illegal (as is the laundering of the proceeds of selling it) but it doesn't seem to stop the trade So I daresay that transferring work to N. Korea and managing the proceeds is actually a lot easier since the crime, such as it is, is truly victimless. Its really an offense against national policy (or, many would suggest "US Hegemony") which for many these days is almost a matter of national pride. This is what happens when you overdo sanctions regimes. I'd guess that trade between China and N.Korea (for example) is now an open secret since we've decided to draw China into our web of sanctions.

A recent news article said that the US was investigating whether SMIC supplying Huawei with processors "was in violation of US law". Nobody who reported this stopped to ask why two Chinese companies trading between themselves would be subject to US law, much less wondered how the optics of this type of statement appeared to people in China. Given this climate trading with the DPRK is now almost a patriotic duty and I expect the sentiment is shared by innumerable other people around the world. This has nothing to do with the merits of particular sanctions regimes but merely that their ham-fisted application to blatantly serve national interests is likely to get peoples' backs up.

Windows Format dialog waited decades for UI revamp that never came

martinusher Silver badge

If it works......

I try to avoid Windows and similar types of systems because of the constant improvements. They seem to be what happens when some relatively junior programmer gets tasked with tidying up some loose end or another and decides that they need to totally redesign it. This is partly the fault of fashion -- the old stuff was obviously not designed using the 'right' techniques or tools and 'the latest' is always better. All too often the actual working bit doesn't get touched, its not obvious to a person who does UIs how it works and its probably in a DLL anyway, so we end up with a half-assed 'improved' labrinthine UI that -- assuming you can figure it out -- does more or less exactly the same job as the original.

Meanwhile, some of us are just trying to get some work done.

Exhibit 'A' for me is the Windows "File Explorer" tool -- I can't believe that a simple directory display program can be made so convoluted and messy. Every time I have to use a new version its more convoluted, hides more (important) information. Its a mess. (But then the system tools ....... Ugh!.......fortunately they're often just naff front ends for tihe original programs.) (And, while we're about it, they're "Directories", not "Folders"....)

Pragmatic Semiconductor opens UK's first 300mm wafer fab in Durham

martinusher Silver badge

At least its a factory

I changed out some small signal valves in an amplifier recently and hidden inside a can was a "Mullard ECC83" with "Made in England" proudly printed on the side. The can likely had protected the lettering so it was still as legible as the day 60 years or so ago when it was made. I think their main plant was in in Blackburn, Lancs., because I've seen an old film on youTube promoting it -- lines of Lancashre ladies assembling, testing, packing and so on -- a thriving business. But it was the 1960s and the writing was on the wall for valves. I think Mullard made transistors at the time but they were packed, marketed and priced like valves -- not a very good business model.

All gone a decade later, of course. This is the problem with playing catch up -- there's a 50 year deficit to make up. Not just in the plant and its technologies but in the entire business from R&D to marketing the product. It either required a consistent effort over the decades or it needs a huge and sustained effort, a commitment to continuing investment, even when there's no obvious return in sight.

(As for the valve, maybe it needs its own display case.....an archeological relic.......)

Google's AI-powered search results are loaded with spammy, scammy garbage

martinusher Silver badge

Useless anyway

I don't know what happened to Google but it has become effectively useless as a search engine. Its probably not Google's fault directly but rather its been gamed so much that the results are meaningless. Maybe the answer isn't AI power but just for it to discard the top 20-30 results from its algorithm before showing the results.

A simple example of the problem is that I was trying to find a simple tool that's used in applying door and window sealant (and also tile grout) yesterday. I have one I've used for years and I wanted to show someone where it could be found (or even what its called!). Doing a search on various keywords turned up page upon page of irrelevant garbage, all advertising for goods and services that I neither wanted nor needed. I eventually found it through Amazon's product listings -- Amazon just sticks to the facts. Out of curiousity I put the official name back into Google and finally it turned up -- but at over twice Amazon's price (....and more).

The web e-commerce system is broke beyond fixing. Its messing up everything.

Microsoft gets new Windows boss as Start Menu man Parakhin 'to explore new roles'

martinusher Silver badge

Exploring New Roles.....

Isn't that a polite way of saying "was made redundant"?

UK elections are unaffected by China's cyber-interference, says deputy PM

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I'[m just waiting for the claims of...

The machines that are used in many (US) states, the ones that were criticized in 2016, don't tabulate the vote. They just print ballot forms with the choices voters make filled out (and pre-checked for over/under votes etc.). Because we hold so many elections simultaneously in the US we end up with a lot of different ballot types, over 180 in our county alone. This was less important when most balloting was done in person at a specified polling place but with a lot of voting being done by mail now the polling places were centralized so it was just impossible to carry all the different forms needed.

The forms are counted at a central location. They're actually photographed first ad any questionable forms -- illegible, damaged etc -- forms are pulled out and handed to verifiers. These are small groups of people who include representatives of all the candidates who, if the all agree, can copy damaged ballots so they can be counted. (The number of these rejects is statistically insignificant, but 'its the right thing'.)

No one person is left in charge of ballots at any time so even if it was statistically feasible to stuff ballot boxes its actually impractical.

Voter ID is handled by signature verification, BTW. Every mailed in ballot form and every in-person voter has their signature checked before their vote is counted or cast.

So -- the conclusion is that if you're going to fiddle the election do it before the balloting, not after.....

martinusher Silver badge

Its the old "Axis of Evil" business -- in fact I'm surprised that they haven't managed to roll Iran into there somewhere.

It really is rather far fetched and I'd suggest that any threat to democracy is from a supine media that won't ask the obvious questions, its as if they reckon that its "More than their jobs' worth". You don't get to keep your job, get promoted etc. by going against editorial policy.

That Asian meal you eat on holidays could launder money for North Korea

martinusher Silver badge

"Some of them may not have visas"

That could easily describe a lot of Chinese eateries. Its more a fact of people needing to find work wherever they can.

Meanwhile, I'd like to own a chain of 60 outlets or so that could do $700 million in additional business per year.

Beijing issues list of approved CPUs – with no Intel or AMD

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Those Chinese Linux distributions are still Linux, right?

The key concept isn't 'western technology' so much as 'open source technology'.

When I boot up Windows Heaven only knows what its doing and why. This is not acceptable for a technology that's important for a company or a society. I put up with it because I don't have the resources to deal with it and, more often than not, the use of Windows is mandated by my employer. If I had the resources, though, I'd only use a platform that I know and trust (and didn't need to phone home all the time to do this).

Its the same with hardware. Making things more complicated rarely makes them better, its just a logical version of sticking fingers in a leaky dike.

Woz calls out US lawmakers for TikTok ban: 'I don’t like the hypocrisy'

martinusher Silver badge

The answer may be quite straightforward

Yanis Varoufakis, the economist, postulated in a recent book ("Techno feudalism") that there might actually be a cogent reason for this and similar anti-China moves on the part of our (US) government. I'm not going to be able to paraphrase him that well but he described it in terms of cashflows or how a country like China selling services in the US collects dollars but doesn't have to purchase or reinvest those dollars in the US. (He introduces the notion of 'cloud capitalism' in this book, a notion about monopolizing meta-services where whatever you do or make has to involve paying a rakeoff to one of the giant technology companies. Essentially American technology companies. We're all into competition and stuff but historically anything that threatens the primary of giant US corporations attracts the ire of the US government (not surprising because there's always been some doubt about who's the tail and who's the dog). So giant technology companies that don't pay fealty to the US are a definite no-no, be they in the comms business (Huawei) or just making a popular application (ByteDance). They don't threaten 'national security' so much as 'corporate security'.

Normally we can keep foreign corporations under control but the problem with China is that its not playing by the rules. Or rather, our rules. And they're now way too big to ignore.

Boeing top brass stand down amid safety turbulence

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Same old, same old

A modern corporation isn't about engineering or anything like that. Its primarily a merchant bank that does a bit of whatever on the side. This is why it likes outsourcing so much -- if it can get rid of this troublesome 'whatever' so it just retains an income stream from IP, trademark fees and the like then so much the better. The problem in this case is that its not easy to outsource the entire business so they're stuck with a rump that makes the actual aircraft which, unless managed and staffed appropriately, will be prone to spectacular slip-ups.

There's no easy solution because part of the financialization of the company involved selling -- 'spinning off' -- key assets like the manufacturing division that's now known as 'Spirit'. Everything about this corporation is now designed to suck value out of assets and cash flow; unwinding this without causing the stock price to crater (much less finding new sources of capital) is going to be difficult. Expect the taxpayer to eventually on the hook for a rescue. (It will be a bail out as well -- back in the Good Old Days the 1970s era Labour government hit on the idea of instead of just giving grants and tax holidays to companies in this state it would purchase equity. Obviously, like any other investment, it might bomb but some did really well.)(Too bad a change of government fixed that with a below book price sale to the usual insiders/suspects -- Rule #1 is that "Taxpayers can't win"!)

(This also explains why infrastructure projects cost so much money. The money has to go through layers and layers of consultancies, all creaming off what they can, so that by the time things are actually ready to be built it either costs an unreal amount of money or there's literally nothing left except a half-assed rump project.)

Canadian arrested for 'stealing secret' to speedy Tesla battery production

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Open secrets

I guess by "openly drug abusing" you mean "smokes weed"?

In many parts of the US marijuana has been legalized. Legally its only very slightly gray because the Federal government is a bit slow updating its legislation. Obviously other countries -- and states -- have different rules (don't get busted with it in Russia, for example) but the days of regarding smoking marijuana as a 'crime of moral turpitude' are well behind us.

But don't let reality get in the way of opinions......