* Posts by John Savard

2420 posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

Emergency services call-handling provider: Ransomware forced it to pull servers offline

John Savard


How long is it that we've had ransomware? And yet they still haven't improved the security of Windows so that such attacks are no longer possible?

Russian invasion has dangerously destabilized cyber security norms

John Savard


When Russia chose to invade Ukraine, it made itself an international outlaw, just like Germany did when it invaded Poland in 1939. So there is no irregularity involved in cyber attacks, or any other kind of attack, on Russia from the territory of any nation. Only pragmatic reasons, not moral ones, might advise against some forms of attack.

President Biden signs CHIPS and Science Act into law

John Savard

Global Foundries?

How is Qualcomm going to compete with Apple, if they're getting their chips from a supplier that isn't interested in making anything denser than 12nm?

I mean, isn't the CHIPS act all about ensuring the U.S. would have domestic sources that could fill in for TSMC if Taiwan disappeared from the face of the Earth?

China's 7nm chip surprise reveals more than Beijing might like

John Savard

Re: Hold on there

I should also note that the computer I'm using as my daily driver has a Ryzen 9 3900 processor in it. Twelve cores. The I/O portion of the package is on a 14nm GlobalFoundries process, but the CPU cores are on the early 7nm process from TSMC that used only DUV, if I'm not mistaken.

So China is a few years behind... but the capacity they're developing is not going to only allow them to build chips that are hoplessly obsolete. Although, it is true that without EUV, it is a dead end - it won't let them go to 5nm, 4nm, 3nm, and so on. But will even 3nm be that much better than earlly 7nm? Or will China be able to manage just fine?

And while it would need to get EUV lithography equipment from ASML, it claims to have some domestic capability in DUV lithography, and I don't find that claim too difficult to believe, even if their domestic DUV equipment might have some way to go before it could be used to make even 14nm parts, let alone 7nm.

John Savard

Hold on there

It is certainly true that it would be better, from China's point of view, to be able to use EUV to make chips. However, being able to make 7nm chips on DUV is not an accomplishment of no value. For one thing, the chips we in the West are using, although they now have a layer or two made with EUV, are still mostly made with DUV, because EUV is still difficult and expensive. For another, we're still trying to make chips on process nodes beyond late 7nm. Like 5nm or 3nm. So the same tricks that were used to breathe more life into DUV, like double patterning, are going to be used in the future with EUV as well.

Plus, of course, it may take some time for China to make its own EUV machinery. So they are not wasting their time, developing early 7nm technology is going to improve their capabilities considerably and provide them with know-how that will remain relevant for some time to come.

How TSMC killed 450mm wafers for fear of Intel, Samsung

John Savard

TSMC is big now

But does that mean that 450nm makes sense? If it was just a gimmick to squeeze smaller competitors out, then maybe it still doesn't make sense for TSMC even if it is the biggest fish. It would improve yields slightly, but the investment it would require may be wasteful, given how much money it costs to build fabs for each new generation of chips; if you can't do both, advanced technology is still the right focus.

Apple tells suppliers to use 'Taiwan, China' or 'Chinese Taipei' to appease Beijing

John Savard

Better Computers

I would be very pleased if TSMC told Apple that this wasn't in the original contract for their 4nm allocation, and thus that AMD would be pleased to get it instead.

However, I very much doubt this will happen, and instead I think they'll cave unless Taiwan's government makes it illegal to label exports from the island in this way.

John Savard

Violating Sanctions?

I am distressed when Apple engages in behavior that I disapprove of, as are noted in this article.

But the fact that those quoted in this article as criticizing Apple's behavior are claiming that it is violating U.S. sanctions against China is another matter. The U.S. government has shown, time and again, that it is fully prepared to prosecute any and all violators of its laws in this area. It is therefore hard for me to believe that any prospect of profit would tempt the management of Apple to play such a dangerous game.

The many derivatives of the CP/M operating system

John Savard


I thought the x86 version of GEM was sued out of existence by Apple, and thus even today no one could legally use it.

Charter told to pay $7.3b in damages after cable installer murders grandmother

John Savard

Re: $7.3 billion for a murder ?

Reasons were presented as to why he should have been fired long before: he had been robbing other customers of the cable company. Of course, maybe the cable company had no knowledge of this. But even if they're only 1% responsible, $730 billion is still not enough money to raise someone from the dead. So the victim will still not recieve the medical care needed to recover fully from the attack she recieved, and that is the primary way in which justice has not been done.

John Savard

Re: $7.3b in damages

No, the meaning of the word "appealing" in this context means that the cable company is taking the decision against it to an appellate court in hopes of having the judgment reduced.

John Savard

Re: $7.3 billion is heartless and cruel

I don't understand. How is 7.3 billion dollars an excessive award? After all, the medical care the grandmother in question will require to recover from being murdered, as it will require a massive medical research program, will clearly cost far more than that.

Intel to sell Massachusetts R&D site, once home to its only New England fab

John Savard

Most Advanced Microprocessors in the World?

Would that be a reference to the DEC Alpha chips, as opposed to the implementations of the VAX on a chip?

Former AMD chip architect says it was wrong to can Arm project

John Savard


Given what an incredible success Ryzen has been for AMD - it basically saved the company - and that before Ryzen, AMD's resources were limited, for AMD to concentrate everything on Ryzen, and not spread itself too thin... would not seem to have been a mistake at all. It may have been a disappointment, and now may be the time for AMD to begin re-entering the field of ARM server chips, but for AMD to concentrate everything on saving itself through its core business was an eminently sensible decision, rather than a mistake.

First details on TSMC's 2nm node: Chipmaker reveals nanosheet transistors

John Savard

Isn't this...

the same as GAAFET, which we heard of some time ago?

Samsung, others test drive Esperanto's 1,000-core RISC-V AI chip

John Savard


I am amazed that someone is able to fit 1,004 processors on a single die. (Or should that be 1,028 processors?) (EDIT: I see it's 1,092 processors, 1,088 plus 4.) I didn't realize this was even possible yet.

I could be understanding it wrong, but it seems to me that only the four high-performance processors can access off-chip memory. So this chip is sort of like the CELL processor from IBM, except that all the cores have the same instruction set.

Europe twists YouTube's arm to get better cookie consent popups

John Savard

Next Step

Now it's time for Canada to bring in legislation to require that its consumers get the best deal that Google offers anywhere in the world. If Europeans have one button to turn off cookies, Canadians must have it too! If Europeans get to charge their iPhones with a USB-C port, so must Canadians!

Come to think of it, for that last, clearly the European legislation is inadequate, and Canada will have to make its own legislation. While we're at it, how about minimizing electronic waste, too. But if we outlawed the sale in Canada (except on the used market) of any smartphone that didn't have a USB-C port, used for file transfer and the like as well as charging, and a replaceable battery... would the industry rush to comply in order to get access to the Canadian market?

Insteon's vanishing act explained: Smart home biz insolvent, sells off assets

John Savard

Appropriate Legislation

If one sells a device to consumers, and included with the device is a promise to supply certain server services to the owner of it in perpetuity, obviously we need laws by means of which that promise is enforced.

If the servers shut down, the government seizes them, and uses the IRS to bill the company for keeping them running. And, of course, the government has absolute priority over all other creditors.

If companies know that's how things like this will be handled - they will invest part of the price of such products into something that will yield enough interest to pay for the servers.

But I'm afraid that isn't realistic, if only because there are no ironclad investments that are guaranteed not to lose money and to have a minimum yield of interest that can be relied upon. Currencies inflate. There's even a movement afoot to abolish paper money so that negative interest rates can be brought in.

What I still haven't figured out is how we can abolish inflation by going back to the gold standard, and yet have fiscal and monetary policies that ensure full employment forever.

Brave, DuckDuckGo to unplug Google's AMP where possible

John Savard


I wouldn't mind if my browser, Firefox, had a switch so that I could choose to block AMP pages this way. But just blocking them whether I want to do so or not is going too far.

YouTube terminates account for Hong Kong's presumed next head of government

John Savard

No Real Solution

If only the United States had been in a position to carry out regime change in China and Russia in 1948, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Growing US chip output an 'expensive exercise in futility', warns TSMC founder

John Savard

Right or Wrong

Expensive exercise in futility? Will he still be saying that after Taiwan becomes the next Ukraine?

But he is right in that the free market is not able to factor in externalities like the benefits to the U.S. of having the supply of the most advanced microelectronics in a strategically secure location. This is why the U.S. can't process its own rare earth metals from ores that are commonly available worldwide, for example. Or produce the neon gas that is used in semiconductor production.

So it would be futile if we expected it to be economically rational in strict free market terms.

Microsoft dogs Strontium domains to stop attacks on Ukraine

John Savard

Re: Cool, but why are Microsoft doing this?

I don't know. If Elon Musk could seize Russia, I wouldn't mind.

John Savard

Re: Cool, but why are Microsoft doing this?

Because the servers are located in Russia, and the authorities there are presumably complicit in the cyberattacks on Ukraine, given that they're also in charge of the military attacks on Ukraine.

John Savard

Re: Cool, but why are Microsoft doing this?

Who will buy Microsoft Windows if it is an unreliable and insecure operating system? That and good PR in the United States is all the business reason that is needed.

Finnish govt websites knocked down as Ukraine President addresses MPs

John Savard

A Rant, of Course

We wouldn't have had any of this nonsense if Ukraine had been given full Article 5 NATO protection well before the invasion. But no, the world let Putin draw his nuclear red line first.

If Russia didn't have the nuclear secrets it stole from the United States, even this denial of service attack against Finland alone, without all the other provocations, should be enough to result in regime change.

GNOME 42's inconsistent themes are causing drama

John Savard

Open Source, isn't it?

Given that GNOME is open-source, I thought there was plenty that one could do about it.

Rewrite it so that it is once again desktop style-agnostic like the previous version, even though all the calls are compatible, and to boot rewrite the native applciations like the file manager to use the new toolkit.

Just because the Gnome developers can't be bothered to get it right doesn't mean someone else can't.

If you want to make your own chip and aren't Microsoft rich, who do you turn to?

John Savard

Speaking of Nodes

It's true that for some purposes, 130 nm is a disappointment. But if 65 nm were ever to become available to ordinary mortals at an affordable price, that would be enough, since Intel's Core 2 processors made on that node ran at 3 GHz, just about as fast as current microprocessors - and they were Core 2 processors, and so comparable to current ones, as opposed to the Pentium 4, which attained high clock rates by having very short pipeline stages.

114 billion transistors, one big meh. Apple's M1 Ultra wake-up call

John Savard

Not so fast

I had to hunt around. My web search got a figure of 21 TFLOPS for the M1 Ultra. But it took several results before I found one that noted this was single precision floating-point power, not 64-bit floating-point power. And it is double-precision that is usually used for scientific supercomputing.

Russia labels Meta an 'extremist' organization, bans Instagram

John Savard


I'm sure that during World War II, IBM didn't support its products in Nazi Germany. So of course IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and so on shouldn't be supporting their products in Russia during the current Russian assault on Ukraine. Where is the U.S. government, that it hasn't already made this compulsory, using the Trading with the Enemy Act?

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

John Savard

Other Examples

Everybody talks about the Commodore 64!

But what about the Exidy Sorcerer - which may have been the first computer inside a keyboard?

Or the "Zero-Footprint PC" from Cybernet that put a real computer - from an MMX 233 in their earliest model in 1999 to a Pentium 4 in their last model in 2007 - inside a keyboard?

Fujitsu confirms end date for mainframe and Unix systems

John Savard

Possible Futures

If I remember correctly, Fujitsu's mainframes are compatible with the 32-bit version of IBM's 370 architecture. So that is a possible path of migration.

As for getting customers to migrate to Fujitsu's cloud - well, if the mainframe applications are only licensed to run on Hercules if they're run on Hercules in Fujitsu's cloud, problem solved.

Linux kernel edges closer to dropping ReiserFS

John Savard


Surely if ReiserFS is useful, it can be forked to a version that has nothing to do with its original developer.

Comparing the descendants of Mandrake and Mandriva Linux

John Savard

Re: If Only ...

If one particular distro of Linux, say Ubuntu, for example, became so popular that for most people who were not terribly tech savvy, but who wanted to use Linux instead of Windows, they could be really confident that if they installed Ubuntu on their computer, any Linux program they might want to use would run on it... that would, I think, come close to the goal of making Linux at least a viable alternative to Windows.

Because Linux is a mature enough operating system by now, it ought to be useful to people who want to get work done with their computers, not just play around with different flavors of operating system.

But that goal hasn't quite been reached: a lot of Linux programs are available for Ubuntu, yes, but there's another big chunk that are available for CentOS (before it disappeared) and/or OpenSUSE - and not Ubuntu.

That's the divide that, at least, makes me hesitant about going for Linux. Of course, Linux being free, one can just install OpenSUSE in one partition, and Ubuntu in another. But one really shouldn't have to.

John Savard

Hearst Corporation

The trademark dispute was with the Hearst Corporation - so it really was about Mandrake the Magician, the comic strip character.

Google: We disagree with Sonos patent ruling so much, we've changed our code to avoid infringement

John Savard

Re: Real Class

Actually, the existing users of this Google gear should be able to Sonos into the ground, since it's their fault for enforcing an utterly invalid patent. Not Google's. Of course Sonos shouldn't be able to get one cent from this.

John Savard

Re: Patent madness

I don't understand what they're supposed to have invented that wasn't obvious. Marconi invented radio. Edwin Armstrong invented the superheterodyne. Those were inventions that were real and not obvious.

Remote control has been used for ages for model airplanes, for example. So remotely controlling the volume of a speaker, as soon as it becomes useful to do so, is merely an obvious improvement in the art, and those patents should never have been granted.

Intel ‘regrets’ offending China with letter telling suppliers to avoid Xinjiang

John Savard

Re: Bully Bastards

There's one difference. Hitler didn't have the Bomb. So our choices today are limited.

John Savard

I read the book.

The book appeared to have gotten its facts right - but the facts in the book pretty much all showed that IBM did just about everything a private corporation, which had invested in Germany before the Nazi rise to power - could possibly do to prevent its equipment and technology from being misused.

Since it was misused anyways, IBM did make some efforts to cover up the use of 80-column cards in the management of the concentration camps that the Nazis got from Dehomag - to avoid an irrational association which would harm IBM's image.

But IBM shut down its operations in Germany when it saw what was coming. It couldn't order its employees to destroy everything, as that would have put their lives at risk. And it's not as if IBM could have conducted bombing raids on Germany itself before the U.S. was even at war with Germany.

The facts said one thing, even if the authors' tone all through the book tried to say something else.

John Savard

Re: Grow a pair

If trade sanctions against China were all about virtue signalling, your point would be very strong.

But China is being subjected to a "double standard" for a very good reason. It isn't just a country with human rights shortcomings. It's also a threat to the national security of Taiwan, a friend and ally of the United States.

So we would hardly want China to equip its airplanes and ships - that might be confronting American airplanes and ships in the event of an attempted invasion of Taiwan - with the latest microchips.

Bloke breaking his back on 'commute' from bed to desk deemed a workplace accident

John Savard

Who Pays?

One would expect that the ruling would be binding on the insurance companies, and not only on the employer, so the employer would not have to pay for this out of its own pocket.

US bans Chinese firms – including one linked to HPE’s China JV – for feeding tech to Beijing's military

John Savard

Re: Military / Encryption / Stone Age / SWIFT

Lots of people would not consider moving to a country under dictatorial rule for any amount of money. Money is only useful if you live to spend it, and if you can use it to help you lead a happy life. Living under tyranny severely impacts both possibilities.

The people who are too dumb to see that probably will also be unable to be of much help to China's technological advancement.

Apple's Pegasus lawsuit a 'declaration of war' against offensive software developers, says Kaspersky director

John Savard

Re: patching holes

Humans are fallible. All right then, let's have software and hardware that are designed by computers.

It will be difficult to eliminate attacks like rowhammer that way, though.

And while it may not be possible to completely eliminate vulnerabilities, generally speaking major operating systems today are so filled with vulnerabilities that there is a lot of room for improvement.

When the world ends, all that will be left are cockroaches and new Rowhammer attacks: RAM defenses broken again

John Savard

Another Approach?

Is static RAM vulnerable to attacks like Rowhammer? Maybe the thing to do would be to include a static RAM cache inside DRAM chips. This would prevent a CPU running Rowhammer from having direct access to the DRAM.

FYI: If the latest Windows 11 really wants to use Edge, it will use Edge no matter what

John Savard

Not Necessarily Bad?

If the microsoft-edge: protocol is used only for functionality built into the operating system but in the form of web pages, locking it in to a specific browser may make sense. For example, if they made Help screens or the Windows Update function web-based.

The return of the turbo button: New Intel hotness causes an old friend to reappear

John Savard

Re: Wow...

Intel is doing this to satisfy less assertive customers who know they can ask for a refund until they're blue in the face, but they won't get one.

Oregon city courting Google data centers fights to keep their water usage secret

John Savard


I am well aware that California has serious problems with water.

But Oregon? I thought it was lush with constant rain, almost like Washington State to its north.

However, I know there was a concern in Oregon that too many people from California might move there, causing problems. Perhaps this is why; Oregon's water supplies are not as copious as I thought.

Latest Loongson chip is another step in China's long road to semiconductor freedom

John Savard

A Fork of What?

Loongnix is a fork of CentOS? Shouldn't that be that Loongnix is a fork of RHEL?

Teen bought Google ad for his scam website and made 48 Bitcoins duping UK online shoppers

John Savard

Now that it's confiscated

will the money end up being returned to the people it was stolen from?

Guntrader breach perp: I don't think it's a crime to dump 111k people's details online in Google Earth format

John Savard

I hope that one of the consequences of this data breach is that there will be no further need for any database of hunt saboteurs, because the police will respond quickly to reports of hunt sabotage, and the perpetrators will be swiftly arrested and convicted - so that the activity of hunt sabotage will come crashing to an absolute and permanent end.

Air gaps have been 'shattered’, says new Indian policy on power sector security

John Savard


Hasn't it already been known that actual air gaps aren't secure either, because the little computers inside USB memory sticks can be taken over by hackers?

Of course, that isn't the only threat. Even if the medium used to transfer program files to an isolated computer is secure, the files, ultimately obtained from the Internet, can, of course, have been corrupted with malware. So going to the trouble of building a "secure" computer that has to be fed data on punched cards, say, is a waste of effort.

So what should India be doing, then?

For starters, build their own USB sticks which have validated firmware which cannot be updated externally. That solves one problem.

Next: have an air gap around the facilities that develop software for their power generation systems. That way you avoid supply-chain attacks.

And then you use sneakernet to get the software from the developer to the power station.

The fact that employees will not be able to browse the Internet on their lunch breaks may be viewed as unreasonable hardship. But as long as their work computers don't have USB ports available, they could still browse the Internet on their own smartphones.

Oh, wait. There's this thing called the COVID-19 pandemic, and so everyone is working from home.

In that case, you will have to settle for a "virtual air gap", insecure though it may be. However, a more secure virtual air gap is possible. Basically, the work-from-home computer connects to the server through a VPN, but in addition, neither the work from home computer (supplied by the employer, not the employee's home computer) can't connect to the Internet in any other way, it can just use the VPN to go to the office server.


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