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Comment: Documentation vs. Implementation (Score 4, Interesting) 37

by cstacy (#47346865) Attached to: EDSAC Diagrams Rediscovered

Since microelectronics, people don't re-wire CPUs anymore...well, they do if it's FPGAs and such. But even in the late 1960s computers were constructed with discrete electronic parts on PCBs. We got a lot of milage out of those vintage machines. I remember hooking up a primitive (by today's standards) logic analyzer to trace signals through the CPU, replacing components such as pulse amplifiers and flip-flops that comprised machine registers. In a research lab setting, it was not uncommon to modify the machines -- for example, new circuits to support dynamic paging (memory bus modifications, associative memory tables, etc.) So I am sure the working EDSAC machine must have had modifications that were not even recorded on these diagrams they have recovered. The story reminds me of a logbook entry that another hacker wrote when repairing the PDP-6 at the MIT AI Lab around 1982. It simply read, "Found wiring here not on schematic. Repaired circuit."

Comment: It Makes Perfect Sense (Score 1) 179

by cstacy (#46895575) Attached to: XP Systems Getting Emergency IE Zero Day Patch

The exploit has been known -- to SOMEONE -- for a while. So why did it come out of inventory all the sudden right now? Afraid that too many valuable targets would switch off XP or install new protection? Hardly likely that XP users will really switch this year. And where did it come from anyway? Transmitted from secret MS operatives to the bad guys? NSA wants to scare people into switching? Stupid bad guys just decided to use it while it was still fresh? There are many conspiracy theory variants on this episode.

Microsoft had to issue the patch for XP, otherwise the timing might look too suspicious (whether they were involved in promulgating the exploit, or not). Regardless, MS has mitigated the impact and can now say with a straight face, "See! We told you this could happen!" Next time, regardless of who may or may not be behind the exploit du jour, they really really won't be patching XP. Microsoft is now in the position they wanted. They have tried to help as much as possible, everyone has had not only a warning but a credible scare, and needs to upgrade to a new version of WIndows.

(People who are running XP or DOS on embedded systems that can't be upgraded have worse problems; that's a whole other discussion.)

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.