* Posts by doublelayer

3560 posts • joined 22 Feb 2018

Indian state cuts off internet for millions to stop cheating in exams

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Re: Are they really cheating?

Yes, because in the job they're going to get, they need memorization. They are going to be teachers. If you're teaching chemistry, you need to know chemistry. You can refer to the periodic table to find the numbers you've forgotten, but if you have to use the internet to know what a covalent bond does, then you're no use teaching that to the students because you'll spend half the time looking stuff up. The same is true of most other subjects. You may not need to be a genius, but you do need to understand the topic.

I generally think a lot of tests are unnecessarily restrictive, but successful searching does not mean you know what you're doing. The tests can allow the use of those resources most of the time, but only if the time limit means someone has to use them only in the important cases.

tz database community up in arms over proposals to merge certain time zones

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Re: Wow, just wow

We didn't lose any information. A program stopped containing it. You can look up historical time information in many places. The question is whether the TZ database needs to contain all of what it currently contains. For the same reason, the TZ database won't correctly handle the calendar switch before the Gregorian became nearly universal, but if you want to see how each country did it at different times making a big mess, you can still look that up. People tracking historical events do this frequently. It's like asking whether a textbook should contain the full text of a historical speech--if it is decided that it's not needed for the educational experience, one can still look the speech up and read it elsewhere.

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If we throw out daylight saving time, which we can and probably should. We also have to deal with the countries that decided to have fractional time zones, among them Australia (some states at UTC+9:30), India (UTC+05:30) Canada (one province at UTC-3:30) and the weirdest Nepal at UTC+5:45. Also China's insistence on using one time zone when they're big enough to need three, and it's not even the middle one. Here's what currently happens to the map when you use the time zones as they currently exist: https://xkcd.com/1799.

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Re: Is the database really that big

"I suppose there might be a few things like thermostats which have local interaction with a clock involved, but... Have a "DST" toggle button?"

No, please don't do that. Such things confuse a lot of people (I.E. which position should this switch be set to now? Was it set right the last time?). If it's smart enough to know what date and time zone it is, it can switch that automatically unless configured not to. Having to change a dumb clock is fine, but having to change something which is smarter and probably not obvious that it has a clock is just a pain. If we have to do DST (and we really don't), then the computer should do the adding and subtracting.

Metrobank techies placed at risk of redundancy, severance terms criticised

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Re: Agile isn't nebulous

Well, the Agile Manifesto principles list says that the business people and the techs should be working together, and they weren't doing that, and it said to trust each other and give them what they need. I'd say it disagrees on two points. Why I'm being asked to support a manifesto I mainly opposed in the original post is beyond me though.

As for this circumstance, I don't know the organization and I don't know what the IT department was doing. From your tone, it sounds like the external vendor provided a product which accomplished the goal, so the business got what it needed. I must also caution you that it can and does frequently go the other way--the vendor sells a product, IT is told to install it, it takes forever, breaks a lot, doesn't do what the business needs, and the business people have lost their purchase price. That's one place where the manifesto is actually correct: the business people and the techs should work together in the meetings in order to test out the products being offered to ensure the first option happens and the second is avoided.

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Re: Agile isn't nebulous

"The thing is, argue against the statement?"

Sure. Let's try that.

"Would your customers prefer exquisite documentation about the project and the code base, or actual working software?"

Both, usually. In a project where documentation is weighted as heavily, then things take longer, but the documentation matches. Compared to the many projects I've seen where the documentation has problems, that is usually better. What happens there is that documentation is patchy, sometimes out of date, and you get more support requests. That's taking up your time and theirs because the docs were incorrect or missing. If I leave a job with documentation in place, someone can pick it up later. If I leave with patchy docs, they will either read those and come to hate me the second or third time the code doesn't match what they read or will have to call me to ask for help.

"Would your customer prefer working software now, with continual updates to improve it, or wait a lot longer and then have to wait another lengthy period for any changes?"

This one is easy: yes, they would prefer the agile method in most cases. However, I generally wouldn't. If the customer wants something, they should mention it at the start so I can plan for it. If they request a change 80% of the way through their original request which requires a redesign, they've wasted a bunch of my time. If they don't care how long I spend working on it and they pay me for it, that's fine with me. They do care about both things, so it's not. I'm fine with change requests that are minor, but nontechnical people rarely understand what is a minor change and what is massive.

"Would you adopt a development methodology that doesn't support changing requirements, even late in development? Have you ever had the luxury of an implementation project that didn't have those?"

Of course not. However, my methodology is to try to gather enough information so that there are likely to be few major changes at the end, not to embrace the chaos and let anybody change whatever they want.

"They're not vague statements, they're basic positions and principles."

Which get constantly redefined and which don't actually tell you anything.

"They're not prescriptive, they trust you to be a professional and take ownership of your own methodology. They don't tell you to do this or that, they encourage a mindset."

They encourage a mindset of basic platitudes. "Trust [the workers] and give them what they need" isn't original and it doesn't tell people anything. It's like telling people to be nice; it's better if they are, but exactly how that gets implemented and what benefits it brings need more elucidation.

"the Agile Manifesto merely articulates the approach that a very large group of experienced professionals have found to be the most effective."

Except the only thing I can understand clearly from their proposal is "accept change all the time". Everything else has multiple possible meanings.

"Disclosure: I've successfully delivered software into a production environment at a bank using Extreme Programming, and worked in and alongside teams using agile methods and methodologies for two decades. They deliver."

And I work on an agile team as well. It's fine. If we're actually agile, though how could I know? Our documentation does have the patchy problem, so maybe that's a good sign.

I think a lot of companies that do internal coding already did a lot of the agile process. Probably less in contracting or consulting, though I am young enough that I haven't seen a lot of what things were like before the manifesto. Accepting change didn't have to be written into the requirements if managers were still demanding things get changed, and knowing managers like I do, I don't think they just started doing that.

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Re: Agile isn't nebulous

That depends who we let define it. If we all agree that the only true agile is the agile that can be agiled from the manifesto people, assuming we can actually arrive at a factual definition from their list of rather vague principles, then the statement can work. Otherwise, we end up with about ten things all called agile which basically boil down to "whatever we used to do in this company, but now we call it agile and use some words that came either from the agile manifesto or some other people who also liked it". To me, this morass of definitions is a great case for using the word nebulous.

But let's assume that we can throw out the many companies who use agile only as a buzzword. They're using it incorrectly. That still leaves us with the manifesto and principles list as you have linked it. Which I still think is incredibly nebulous. Starting with the manifesto itself, we get lines like this:

"Through this work we have come to value: Working software over comprehensive documentation"

I've debated this with people before. We cannot agree whether this means that documentation can be ignored (a lot of people take it this way and I think that's bad) or calling for a balance (essentially saying nothing). The manifesto has several things like this, where the comparison either leads to harmful absolutism or provides no information whatsoever about how to do both things.

The principles have more instructions. Maybe they will be clearer. Let's look at the first two (numbers mine):

1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.

So deliver early, then accept changes late. Have a development timeline which has a late, but deliver continuously. These aren't entirely contradictory, but it doesn't really answer anything. It ends up meaning "do whatever the customer tells you to do when they tell you to do it, whether or not it's reasonable". I can guarantee that while an employer might occasionally "[g]ive [the workers] the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done", the customer will never do the former unless informed about the needs at the beginning and the latter can't be guaranteed either. So how does one balance the desires of a nontechnical and demanding customer (or manager) with all these lovely sentiments? I certainly don't know, and the manifesto doesn't really say. That is why it is nebulous.

Amazon delivery staff 'denied bonus' pay by AI cameras misjudging their driving

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Re: Too soon

It's being pushed by people who build such things and hope to sell them, just like every other product. That's what companies do, and this isn't unusual. In addition, though the companies want it to succeed for their own profit, those things you mentioned are actually possible benefits we would get from having it done.

As for "it has happened before", yes it has and it was really the same. You could make arguments like this for literally any technological advancement and people did. That is what progress looks like, and pain is inevitable in it. When computers automated lots of administrative actions, some people lost their jobs. Yet we still benefited quite a lot from them and, since you're posting here, I suspect you have benefited more than most. Whether the drivers of delivery vehicles lose their jobs to self-driving vehicles, more train transport, or drones, it's going to happen if the technology is efficient enough. Instead of trying to hold it back in the hopes that nothing changes and we don't have to care about the negatives of the current situation, we should plan for what we're going to do when progress happens.

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Re: Too soon

So, in your view, when they've had the car driving without people on their testing location and tried various ways of making it crash and it's working, what is the next step? I realize that your options are possible, but the only options I see are to try this, ban self-driving vehicles permanently, or allow them without testing. Which one is your plan?

As for the boredom possibility, I think it can be solved by reducing the hours that the testers are driving the cars. If they've worked 300 hours by day 32, that's a very long day (even assuming it's 32 days of working not 32 calendar days). Testing for two hours per day and swapping out people to do something else means they're less likely to be bored and faster on reaction time.

If your head's not in the cloud, you're not in the right place

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Re: Sounds like a cry for help.

Maybe you're thinking of the OVH fire? France instead of the US but most of the rest of the facts match. They didn't move anybody and took a month to recover most of it.

The multiple DCs isn't so the cloud provider automatically moves you in case of problems, though in the case of smallish long-term problems they probably would. It is so you can have a multi-region setup which fails over without having to build multiple DCs. Having duplicate infrastructure in different countries when you're on prem takes months of planning and finding colocation facilities if not building or buying your own. Doing it on cloud can be a selection from a list box (warning, your bill will increase). Even doing it manually is a lot faster. Your company might already have computer rooms in multiple countries for you to do it, but a lot of them don't.

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One difference is all the connections that go into such a system. If you need to know how to set up a distributed database which survives nodes going down, you will need to actually distribute a database and fail some test nodes. If the nodes are VMs, you can learn something. If your only fail test is unplugging half of your cluster and seeing what the other half does, you don't get to test that particular use case very well. And that's just one case where something needs a lot more hardware. Whenever there is a multi-system interaction, it's not something you can simulate on a couple Pis unless you're really dedicated to creating virtual networks which match the real ones and using containers or something like that so they're running all the systems which would be in separate VMs or servers in a real deployment.

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Re: Sounds like a cry for help.

"Is an internal cloud really a cloud?"

In most respects, no. You don't get the scalability or redundancy of running on a much larger set of DCs, which is one major benefit of cloud infrastructure. Often what the "internal cloud" label means is one of two things. It could just mean more virtualization of things so they're not as tied to the specific hardware. A lot of people are doing that. The second option is using an existing cloud provider's software on hardware you own, which probably shouldn't get that label, as buying software from Microsoft which gets the Azure brand attached and could run on Azure is not really much different from buying other software from them when you're running on your own hardware.

Don't touch that dial – the new guy just closed the application that no one is meant to close

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Re: Its the worst

I think that particular one is no longer a thing. With ACPI and equivalents, it's more likely that holding the button will force a shutdown whereas pressing it quickly will do an orderly one (or, we can hope, do nothing). That cuts off the last second of abort opportunity, but at least it doesn't leave that painful moment or the despair of having missed that too.

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Re: the words "DO NOT CLOSE DOWN THIS APPLICATION"

I don't think so. Idiot proofing is also making things easier for every user, including the knowledgeable ones. Things meant to simplify the common tasks for someone who would mess something up if asked are also useful for people who just don't want to take the risks or who want to get things done faster. You may be one of those people who take pride in using the smallest number of tools to get the job done, posting your comments via telnet and manually entering the HTTP headers, but if you're not, you're benefiting from years of others' idiot-proofing of the software you use.

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Re: the words "DO NOT CLOSE DOWN THIS APPLICATION"

"Certainly "bigger" and "idiot-proof" don't fit together very well."

Oh, they do some of the time. A small set of utilities likely don't include a lot of automatic recovery, warnings, etc. Very convenient for the knowledgeable, terrible for someone with more power than they should have. A bigger system created with the goal of idiot-proofing will have more ability to recover from a user doing something stupid, and that can be one of the most important things. You're probably thinking of systems made bigger not for idiot-proofing, but merely because of feature creep, which indeed doesn't help at all.

For the nth time, China bans cryptocurrencies

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Re: Charles Ponzi would be proud

Of how many people don't know how his scheme worked, probably he would be. Cryptocurrency can be a poor investment, there are many crypto-themed scams, and it's also frequently failed at its own goal, but A) the popular ones aren't schemes at all, bubble is closer to the truth and B) some of the time when it is a scheme it's not a Ponzi-style one. Ponzi schemes are not a generic term for something where you lose money. It's a rather specific kind of deliberate fraud which requires several things a lot of crypto schemes don't have.

Texas law banning platforms from social media moderation challenged in lawsuit

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Re: Forced speech

"For that matter, if they are not the press, then do they have a first amendment right to freedom of the press?"

Yes. Freedom of the press applies to everybody, because you can go out and buy a press.

"And that begs the question, is the 1996 act itself contrary to the first amendment?"

No, that's ridiculous. It does not in any way restrict the freedoms set forth there.

If you're Intel, self-driving cars look an awful lot like PCs

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Re: Trickle-down effect?

The regulations must have something like this in them:

A car must be able to drive itself safely without using any technology or services located outside the car. It must have the ability to disconnect from any external services without special permission or equipment, and the method to do so must be made public so the safety testing can verify that it is safe without those connections. Any defect resulting in safety risks in this mode requires an immediate recall.

If it doesn't have that, the products will end up being unsafe or someone will have to take them off the users to prevent that. Either way, that's not acceptable.

Court of Appeal says AI software cannot be listed as patent inventor

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Re: @Big_Boomer - Too soon

That depends. Real inventions of the kind that would advance the society of them and/or other sentient creatures, no. But they do use a lot of tools which we didn't give them, and given the quality of a lot of patent systems, I think they probably could get a patent accepted for the various rock and stick-based tools that they know how to make. We don't know how to make them as well because we don't have much use for them and we can build a better one with electronics, so probably no competing patents have yet been filed.

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His approach is not the only thing that's flawed. His idea is also flawed, as the program isn't sentient and he knows it. In some ways, I'd like him to win if only for the law to now conclude that his not-a-person program, having been declared a person to own a patent, has been illegally enslaved for which he will now be charged. Until that aspect makes sense, the other ones don't either.

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Re: The same DOOFUS (sorry DABUS) software...

"It's somewhat stupid, yes, but far more stupid patents have been granted."

That is if we're all ignoring whatever a "neural flame" is and why it's in here. With my astute understanding of none of this, it sounds to me as if this feature is a light which you notice as particularly associated with this container, so that if you forget that the container with the light on is the one sending the signal, you will remember that the one that flashes three times a second is the third from the left. Why a container that doesn't, according to its patent, contain any sensors or other technology to register events needs to send a signal to the user is an exercise left to the patent examiner.

Calling a LED anything with "neural" in it is one of those things that instantly tells me that the person who wrote it is scamming me, clueless, or both. I'll give this guy a special exemption as it's his software who wrote it, but that doesn't help the case at all.

Lithuania tells its citizens to throw Xiaomi mobile devices in the bin

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Re: CHaaS

Of course they're different, in the sense that one of the things most attempts to define fascism can agree upon is that, if you're going to be fascist, you have to dislike communism. In execution, they're also different--one allows private corporations, one doesn't. In many other respects, they're very similar in their authoritarian governing methods. These differences are clear, but they don't change the fact that both are very bad, nor do they change the fact that defining fascism as corporate control is completely wrong. Corporate-controlled states are possible, undesirable, and different from fascist ones.

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Re: CHaaS

"In Fascism, the corporations control the govt"

Incorrect. Fascism is tricky to define, but an easy method to start is to look at those countries which undoubtedly represented it: Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. In each case, corporations did hold more power than in Communist countries, as they continued to exist. They did not control the government. The government got its power through its own force and it used that force to control the nation as it wished, including limiting, changing, or destroying corporations if they didn't do what the government wanted. You have demonstrated a lack of knowledge of what Fascism is, and therefore the rest of your comments do not need further rebuttal.

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Re: Free Tibet!

Or, since the Chinese Tibet has many of those things but with different people getting the rewards, you could have a Tibet where the citizens decide what they wanted. A democratic one with liberty, or maybe it could be called free. Advocating for freedom doesn't mean we want to return to a situation which occurred several decades ago, nor do many Tibetans want that either. A feudal dictatorship and a modern dictatorship are both unacceptable.

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Re: CHaaS

Yes, the situations are different. I don't like either, but one which Apple did because China required it of them is different from Xiaomi doing it despite there being no legal requirement to do so. In Apple's case, they're distressingly willing to do what China says, but if China stopped saying it, Apple would turn it off.

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Better approach

Instead of banning a specific manufacturer or just asking people to throw away equipment that they're not going to trash, make software like this illegal, big fines for selling it. Then they will either remove it or your government gets a big fine and they stop selling it. That also helps when you find some other manufacturer has started to include that.

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Re: CHaaS

Great proof that China isn't alone in censorship: an article talking about an American company censoring for and only in China. Maybe you could try proving the original claim instead?

Apple tried to patch this security hole in macOS Finder but didn't consider upper and lowercase characters

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Re: Slash happy

This error message also known as the "Arrgh Apple error", because it's the thing that goes through my head whenever I see it. They use that message for anything they don't like in Finder. This means, for example, that they give you the same message for applications that they don't want to run for certificate reasons (you can bypass that by changing a setting and using the menu to open it, but it doesn't say that). People complain about Microsoft's "Something went wrong and here's a 32-bit hex value, have fun" messages, but as unhelpful as those are, they're at least truthful. "X can't be opened because it's damaged" is quite often an outright lie, but because they also give you that when something is really malformed, you can never know until doing your own investigation.

Google experiments with user-choice-defying Android search box

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Re: without their knowledge or consent

From the article, they started testing it over a year ago, so <-1 years.

Did you mean "How long until this becomes a GDPR issue that someone with the power is actually looking at"? That might be a higher number as Ireland is in control and doesn't run fast on these things. It could be worth checking if you're in the "small number of users" and filing complaints.

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Re: Ban the Blob

There is, but I'm guessing you won't like it. There is a surprisingly active Linux-on-mobile experiment going on. The PinePhone from Pine64 costs $150-$200 and can run your choice of mobile Linux distros. However, it's all very new and experimental, so you're not going to see the ease of use you find on Android. If you're serious about wanting to try the Pi solution, then this is probably a better option as it's done the hardware assembly for you and is a lot more phone-shaped than you would likely achieve.

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Re: Oh ffs El Reg, shill for Google much?

Correct bit:

"The one itsy bitsy witsy little difference being that Apple’s implementation *forces* all apps to [use the same engine] which is the complete and total opposite of what Google is doing."

Incorrect bit:

"respect the user’s browser preferences, which is a huge plus for user privacy."

No, because the user doesn't get any preferences. The apps are forced to use Apple's browser preferences. As for privacy, the requirement to use WebKit does not in any way restrict the app's data collection method. A browser can use WebKit to render a page, log the page, scrape data off the page, take action automatically on the page, and send all collected information to the app's developers. That violates a different privacy standard Apple has (though doesn't enforce), but nothing about the browser engine prevents it. Apple's choice benefits Apple, and while it doesn't intrinsically do anything against user privacy, it also doesn't do anything to help it either. It is also restricting user choice, just in a different way with different goals.

Suex to be you: Feds sanction cryptocurrency exchange for handling payments from 8+ ransomware variants

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No, it would just put a dent in the cryptocurrency industry. Which isn't really a problem for me, but since you're proposing it with a stated goal you will not get, perhaps not the best argument for it.

Ransomware operators use cryptocurrency for three reasons: it's easy to move large chunks, they can exchange it for actual money more easily, and it can't be taken away from them. For the avoidance of doubt, they don't do it because it's untrackable (it's not), easy for the victims to hide (it's not), or effectively anonymous (it can be but they're not). The most successful ransomware operations have also moved to attacking a smaller number of big targets, looking for payouts in the millions. The result of this is that it's now easier to handle small costs in convenience to receive a ransom. If the ransom is for a personal computer and paid for by an individual, requesting the user take extra steps to get the payment could be so expensive for the user that they won't be paid. If a business is going to pay millions, they can ask for that. If they find themselves miraculously unable to exchange cryptocurrency for something they want, they'll do that.

If you could eliminate cryptocurrency's value entirely, which you can't, ransomware has several other methods to move money. They would be better at ranking the options as I'm sure they've already made plans, but they would include making transfers to international banks and quickly withdrawing money (more complex, easier for victims), physical movement of cash (bulky), and physical movement of something more compact like gold (victim must exchange for it). These aren't simple, but for a payout in the millions, it is worth figuring out how to do it. In addition, as most ransomware operators are insulated from legal consequences by corrupt countries, they can use that to their advantage--receiving the ransom physically in a country where the police want to catch you is risky, but if the police don't care, it's fine.

It's the end of the world as we know it, and we should feel fine

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Re: We shouldn't feel fine

"If you turned on an iPhone a decade from now, it wouldn't be able to talk with the different services at Apple's end and would probably be pretty useless as anything other than a simple phone... that's if it could still verify with the mothership if it's stolen or not. If your iPhone decided to release magic smoke, there's little you could do to fix it."

I said much the same myself, but in fact, you're not entirely correct. I have an 11-year-old iPhone here. It doesn't even have the benefit of having been preserved as it's one that a friend discarded five years ago and I couldn't find anyone who wanted it. It's not very useful, but it does actually connect with Apple's services. I can get apps still. I can use their messaging service on it. I can sync with it. It all still works as well as things can when you only have 256 MB of RAM trying to run an app written for much more.

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Re: We shouldn't feel fine

You're broadly correct, but the specifics aren't:

"80s computers may be obsolete, but many of them still work."

In the sense that they turn on, maybe. But that's if you kept them in relatively good condition and kept the boot disks as well. If you didn't have all the parts in storage, they wouldn't work very well, and there are lots of pieces that wouldn't work. Try getting a computer to display anything if you didn't also keep a compatible analog TV, with either the right RF or analog input. Or to produce a disk if you didn't already have one.

"How many iPhone 13s will still work in 20, 30 years, even if it's just as an iPod because the phone functionality has moved on (for which Apple can't be blamed)?"

Basically the same amount. If you put it in storage, you can take it out in decades and turn it on and it will be sort of fine. The battery is the only part that is likely to die, and in twenty years it won't be in great condition, but it will still boot up. You will certainly have lots of problems with it, but they parallel the problems you would have with an 80s computer. You probably couldn't access Apple's app store, so you couldn't install things that weren't already installed, similar to how you couldn't easily load new software on an 80s computer without rebuilding the hardware to load it onto media. You could get the old XCode to run so you could build from source, but only if you're willing to virtualize the old Mac OS, just like you still can write in Z80 assembly and have that work. You probably couldn't buy replacement parts for your old phone, just like how you couldn't replace a chip on your 80s computer should it decide to release the magic smoke. In fact, if there's any difference that jumps out at me, it is that you have a greater chance of the magnetic storage from the 80s computer degrading without external damage than the flash in the relatively sealed phone, making the phone more likely to have the software it started with.

Phones don't last very long, and they're not designed to, but they would keep working if you preserved one. For the same reason, a lot of old computers didn't get preserved and ran their last halt instruction back in the decade when they were bought. Your preservation of 80s equipment doesn't make it particularly resilient.

Chip glut might start in 2023, says IDC, and auto-chip traffic jam could clear this year

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Re: Rip and replace

I'm sure they would like that, but if a telco buys some banned equipment because it's cheaper than buying everything directly from them, then they still might want to support that country in order to get repeat business as that equipment becomes broken or obsolete. If they're only open to all-or-nothing deals, they have competition who might have a package that could be more convincing, but the other competitors are unlikely to compete with equipment sold at a low price by places who just want to get rid of it.

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Re: Rip and replace

I'd imagine that the companies who originally bought it had those contracts, and if they're not transferable, they're negotiating that as well. If Huawei is to lose another customer for ongoing support payments, they could be receptive to having that customer find them new telcos to pay for that support and become loyal Huawei customers in future.

Crank up the volume on that Pixies album: Time to exercise your Raspberry Pi with an... alternative browser

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In this case, "clean room" refers to writing code where you never look at the code someone else wrote to do the task. That means that you don't run the risk of accidentally copying someone else's algorithm or less accidentally copying their source chunks. This helps both with licensing and with preventing a monoculture. For licensing, it means that you don't run the risk of having to adhere to someone else's license terms because you used something that requires it; for proprietary licenses, this is a virtual requirement to avoid copyright or reverse-engineering EULA violation charges. For monoculture, it avoids having a certain implementation become an effective standard merely because everybody did it that way, and therefore strengthens the limited public standard over the arbitrary whatever the Chromium dev thought of.

Is it OK to use stolen data? What if it's scientific research in the public interest?

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Re: when is collected data stolen?

Data is such a broad term that you're talking about different things. Data in the sense of existing facts without additions isn't copyrightable. Data in the sense of a digital representation of something which would qualify is copyrightable.

Also, you may want to check the outcome of the Google V. Oracle thing. Oracle could copyright their API, but Google was allowed free use of the part they wanted without having to ask for permission or provide payment.

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Re: when is collected data stolen?

Trademarks do work for shorter things, but, for two reasons, neither street signs nor a compilation of street signs can be trademarked.

Trademarks are for things which are associated with products, companies, or brands. They must be actively used for a stated purpose. For example, Apple (company) owns a trademark for the word apple when used to name a computer product, streaming video services, watch, or other products they use the name with. They do not own the word apple when used to talk about a fruit, or for that matter a product they don't make. I could probably start a company making something unrelated to their products and use the word apple to name it. Street signs are not limited to a business purpose, so they don't come under trademark protection.

A compilation of street signs can't itself be trademarked or copyrighted. It is too long to trademark and in any case its contents would be someone else's work (the government who decided on the street names). The list of street names wouldn't be copyrightable because they weren't the creative effort of the compiler. The compiler could easily attach original work to their list, which would be copyrightable, but if it was just a list, they are out of luck.

doublelayer Silver badge

Your view is interesting as I saw the Ashley Madison data as a perfect example of an inappropriate use.

In the case of cold water immersion, it's data which can never be obtained legitimately--people who accidentally fell into water are not common or detailed enough to use only data collected during their treatment, and there is no safe way of exposing subjects to that in controlled circumstances. It's also data which can help others by improving the treatments for those who end up in cold water nowadays. It's difficult for me to accept the use of results obtained by torture, but the preceding points make it a little easier.

Neither point is true of the data researchers might use from Ashley Madison. It's extremely personal data which the subjects did not want released, but if researchers wanted to collect it, they have the option of getting subjects to agree to provide that kind of information. If nobody agrees to do so, that only accentuates the fact that people are not comfortable having their private lives scrutinized to that level. In addition, nobody is having their life saved from research done on sexual habits. Its benefit to people other than the researchers is minimal, an interesting article to read at best. One more point: if the researchers wanted to use the data, they could contact the very real people involved in the breech to ask for permission, as they would have to do for any other experimental subject. They didn't do that, likely because they know most or all would refuse, but that doesn't remove their ethical responsibility. They are using stolen data for personal gain with no consent whatsoever, and I see no convincing argument that doing this benefits anybody else.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Why = money

"Circumstances will determine whether the data is truly stolen or if there is a usurious paywall blocking its access."

You are not talking about the same thing we are. Stolen data does not mean pirated data, but rather the result of clearly illegal theft of that data, whether that is a breech, GDPR violation, or anything else that is clear but can't be reversed. This isn't about data that's in a paid-for journal. Incidentally, if someone did get a copy of that data without payment, one couldn't figure out whether they had or not, so the stolen label couldn't be reliably assigned.

doublelayer Silver badge

Crimes committed against an enemy in wartime are very different than crimes committed against the public. In the second world war, soldiers were killing each other, which is how war works. Theft is not really relevant here. The theft of cryptographic equipment is therefore not at all a useful example of what the article is talking about.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Misinformation here....in the guise of a "balanced discussion"!!!!!

"Why do the NSA, GCHQ (both aka STASI) get a free pass in this discussion?"

Because they're not in the discussion. The discussion is about the use of data in research, and whatever those institutions are doing with the data they've stolen, they're not writing research papers. So we tend to reserve our complaints about them, of which believe me I have hundreds, for topics in which their actions are relevant.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: when is collected data stolen?

Street signs are not copyrightable because they were created by the government for public use and in any case are probably too short to qualify. Folk songs were probably not copyrighted because they have no identifiable creators and are old enough that any copyright would have expired. If they were commonly known but the writer was still living, then compiling would have been illegal. In each case, neither piece of information was stolen.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: I only do car analogies...

Neither analogy is at all connected.

"whether it is legal and ethical for someone interviewing you about your driving experience and then publishing the findings" is clear, it is legal. Because they tell you at the beginning that they want to interview you and they will publish the findings and they tell you how much of your personal data is going out. Not telling people that either leads to no data (don't tell people you want to interview them) or is illegal (disclose information you haven't obtained consent to disclose). Research review boards have the responsibility to maintain such regulations.

I can't think of many car-related analogies, but the closest is someone creepy puts a tracking device on your car to track you, someone who isn't the attacker gets the data, and they intend to use it for whatever they wanted without your consent and despite the fact that, if asked, you would probably refuse.

Turing Award winner Barbara Liskov on CLU and why programming is still cool

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: mumbo jumbo

"Error handling is definitely a concern. Especially when the entire stack from software to hardware works on exceptions, which may leave undefined state left and right."

So you would prefer what, precisely? Exceptions are a lot less undefined than hoping the user remembers to check the return value every time for something indicating a deviation from the golden path. A function that calls a utility, checks that it returned correctly, and runs it with a different parameter if it receives a certain error is no different than one that catches an exception for the same result. It also means that, should my code be badly written and fail to catch the exception, it will either signal you in a way you can recover from anyway or at least you'll see what the problem is rather than dealing with my flawed attempt at recovery.

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: mumbo jumbo

Since implementing multiple interfaces is the same concept that works in exactly the same way with a different name, yes they do. You've probably seen it because you primarily see code in a language using interfaces instead of inheritance for it, but those using C++ will still use multiple inheritance if that's the most convenient way of setting up the architecture.

Apple, Google yank opposition voting strategy app from Russian software stores

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Local laws can apply without truly enforcing this

Currently, there's nothing preventing them from doing that, although in both cases it's a bit of a mess if you've installed apps in your real region which you want to keep while set to another one. However, that's a pretty easy regulation to institute: "All devices sold inside the Russian Federation must have the region locked to Russia if applicable with an unlock code to be issued by the manufacturer or service provider in the case of verifiable international sale. This regulation is intended to prevent phone theft, because we have an objection to writing laws that state their real purpose."

Whereas allowing sideloading for Apple and reducing the power of Google's store would be much harder to criminalize.

doublelayer Silver badge

No, not necessarily. They can change the votes and still want to restrict any opposition tactics. Having an app which tells you that Putin is bad and suggests a path to getting rid of him is an advertisement against him, so he may want to have it taken down even if it can't work. As long as he keeps the wealthy and the military on his side, he could do many damaging things to the country and his own image, but he isn't going to change the policy of praise he has going on now even though he and his power would survive it.

De-identify, re-identify: Anonymised data's dirty little secret

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: The article said it best.

Rubbish. If you run a drug trial, you state at the start that you're trying a drug, here's what you think it does, you're collecting lots of information about their medical progress, and you're going to be publishing the data you find. The participants are told this at the start and agree to it, or they don't end up in the trial. That is informed and specific consent, something most of the other examples don't have.

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