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Comment Re:Just another case.... (Score 1) 64 64

A pro-Linux bias on Slashdot is not exactly a surprise, but an equally accurate headline on another forum might have read "Critical bug in Linux corrupts data on SSDs", and the subtitle "Linux maintainers deny serious fault, blame innocent parties for data loss" would probably have been fair too.

Comment Re:Crying wolf (Score 3, Insightful) 64 64

Is that really the point, though?

Vendors of products affected by bugs in closed source software collaborate all the time. It's usually in their mutual interests, and it has been going on forever. Just look at the extraordinary lengths Microsoft used to go to in order to maintain compatibility of Windows with older applications.

On the other hand, the existence of this issue in the first place, the fact that other vendors whose products may also have been affected did not act as Samsung did, and particularly the denial and active yet unjustified blacklisting of Samsung products by the people running the project with the real fault are indictments of that project, no matter how open it claims to be or how big and famous it is.

This whole affair does not look good for Linux, and more importantly, it does not reflect well on the people currently running development of Linux.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 152 152

Unfortunately the places where they have been reducing the lighting in the UK recently are mostly either within large residential areas or on motorways. Our rural lanes are mostly unlit anyway, other than locally around junctions or specific places.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 152 152

It's not just road accidents, either. I have family and friends near where that article is talking about, so I've seen the results directly.

For the younger generations we are seeing some people, particularly females, not wanting to go out late as they'll have to find their way home alone and no longer feel safe. Alternative: Everyone now drives everywhere after dark. Yay for being environmentally friendly.

For older generations, they are actually leaving early even when just visiting friends' homes for the evening, simply because once it's dark they can no longer see well enough to find their way back to the car parked down the street without risking an accident. Alternative: Everyone now installs their own lighting, so all we've done is turn the efficient, relatively cost-effective lighting supplied by councils into less efficient, almost always brighter and/or intermittent, relatively expensive lighting supplied by residents. Yay for... Well, council bean-counters, I suppose, but not really anyone else.

In connection with the latter point, and to the people in this thread arguing that natural moon and star light is sufficient, please remember that older people tend to get much less useful vision from the same light levels as younger people. Just because some people here can see well enough at 25 to walk home across the park by starlight alone, that doesn't mean everyone else can too.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 152 152

The light suddenly coming on can scare away prowlers who who previous hidden in the dark plus it attracts attention when lights are suddenly switching on and off around a building that is known to be unoccupied.

Unfortunately, the also attract attention when they are suddenly switching on and off around buildings that are occupied, and they do it whether it's a criminal triggering them or just someone walking home late or a neighbour's pet cat.

We've recently had a bunch of work done on the streetlights around us, leaving it completely dark right outside our own home. It looks like several people have almost immediately installed their own lighting at their own expense to compensate (which gives you some idea of how popular this move really is, I guess). We could try charging admission for the flashing light show we now get some nights, but honestly, we'd rather be able to sleep again.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 152 152

And cars tend to have headlights.

Unfortunately, those headlights also tend to be aimed at the road ahead and maybe a little ground just to the side of it. They offer little visibility into junctions or corners. A few modern vehicles do have dedicated cornering lights, but even those provide nowhere near the visibility into where you'll be going next that street lighting does.

Since we're not citing studies we remember, I remember one from just a few years ago that suggested the most cost-effective single measure we could take to save lives on our roads in the UK might be to fully light every mile of motorway (and possibly all high-speed roads, but I can't remember now whether the data supported going that far).

The reasoning was that a) most people are afraid of the dark and b) a ne'er-do-well would need a flashlight, which would be easy to spot in the darkness.

But only if there is a chance of people passing by, which seems less likely if the surrounding area is also in complete darkness at the time.

Comment Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 3, Informative) 152 152

This is indeed good news for amateur astronomers. Unfortunately, they are among the only people who will actually benefit or want to go out at night under these conditions.

My wife and sister, in contrast, are now uncomfortable about things like getting a late train home and then walking back from the station in pitch black conditions, to the point where if they can't make arrangements for more secure travel either end of a journey then they will sometimes not go out at all. And yes, before anyone asks, there have actually been relevant crimes recorded in the relevant areas, so their concerns do have have some justification. There is a reason that police and public safety advisors have long recommended walking home along well-lit streets instead of dark paths late at night.

While we're at it, several sources have already highlighted other data, up to and including coroners' reports directly attributing actual deaths in road traffic collisions to reduced lighting, that conflict with the claims here of no harm being done. Those claims are also in conflict with more general evidence about how to design homes and wider areas to minimise the ability for criminals to approach targets undetected and the reduced crime rates that result.

In short, this seems to be based on one selective result, published in a relatively obscure journal and from a relatively unknown source that has some unspecified link to UCL for credibility, that directly contradicts established policing policy, public safety policy, road safety policy, architectural principles, common sense, and hard evidence. But yay for astronomers though, I guess.

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

My proposed solution is simply that they don't force updates on those who don't want them, and instead allow users to defer or completely ignore unwanted updates and only install software they want on their own computer. This solution looks remarkably like how previous versions of Windows have worked prior to the new policy.

I'm seeing conflicting messages about what you can and can't defer/block now. For example, some posters in this thread have said you could already block driver updates before, but other sources (including the article you linked to) imply that this was not previously the case and has now been changed in response to the Nvidia driver problems that triggered this discussion. In any case, this is all academic if they do the sensible thing and don't force any update on any unwilling recipient.

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

Certainly some of these companies do have decent customer support -- I don't mean to imply that such issues never get resolved.

The trouble is, unless they all have good support, there is a risk involved in having automatic updates that wasn't there before.

What I honestly don't understand after all the discussions here and elsewhere in recent days is why so many people seem to be defending Microsoft's position. If they're worried about security issues not being patched, they could just as well leave updates on by default but optional, so those who know what they're doing can take steps to apply the important patches with proper testing and without risking unwanted side effects, while those who just plug in and go will probably get exactly the same result as they would with compulsory updates anyway.

As far as I can see, there is literally no reason not to do this -- which is basically status quo for most systems today -- unless someone at Microsoft has intentions that mean they would want to push an update that a clued up user/sysadmin would not want to install, which is the only time it makes a significant difference whether or not the updates are mandatory.

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

In such cases it is paramount that you contact the hardware vendor and insist that they provide an updated driver to ensure that it works in your environment.

You're adorable. :-)

But seriously, the reality is that you have no power whatsoever to compel an organisation the size of say Nvidia or AMD to provide working drivers. Both provide drivers for their gaming cards that are frequently buggy as hell. Even their much more expensive professional workstation cards -- where almost the entire point is the supposedly better drivers, because the hardware is all but identical -- have all kinds of silly driver bugs that have been known to cause anything from screen glitches while using supposedly certified applications to outright system crashes.

Several people have commented in this Slashdot discussion that you can disable the driver updates within Windows update even if you can't disable other parts, though so far I haven't been able to find any official confirmation of that from a Microsoft source. Even if it's true, that in itself says something about Microsoft's awareness of the potential for forced updates to go badly wrong. :-(

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

Firstly, given that the default behavior outside of enterprise environments is to automatically install updates do we have evidence that this has been significantly problematic? If this is indeed a problem then there should be plenty of instances in the history of Windows Update.

There are plenty of previous cases where Windows Update has broken things. That's why a lot of us are so concerned. Been there, done that, spent the next several hours clearing up the mess, on occasion even resorting to physical media because the normal recovery mechanism was sufficiently b0rked that even booting that far wasn't happening.

Secondly, if the above case turns out to be valid (I'm no expert, that's why I'm asking) then is there any evidence to indicate that this would still not be resolved after a few months of deferring the update in question?

Severe problems like the ones I was thinking of above? No, to be fair to Microsoft, they have usually fixed those within a day or two. (Drivers are a different question entirely, but as we've determined, those are a different case and not entirely Microsoft's responsibility.)

But minor gremlins that mess something up for people with certain hardware or software combinations? Or updates that aren't really necessary at all, like the Win10 nag messages? I don't see any rush to get those fixed.

In any case, as the financial folks will tell you, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future behaviour. The fact is, if you trust Microsoft to get this stuff fixed and it does turn out that they can't or won't fix whatever issue is affecting you, your business is screwed. What manager or IT group wants to risk their business's ability to trade or potentially their own personal livelihood in that way, entirely unnecessarily? Why would any rational person do that, if they understand the other options available to them?

Right, so is the solution to proliferate the knowledge about how to resolve the problem or just bitch pseudonymously in web forum comments about the existence of it?

Once again, the problem isn't just this specific issue, it's the uncontrolled risk associated with allowing anyone to force software changes on a PC you rely on.

And if you think I'm only bitching about this pseudonymously on-line, you're crazy. Every business I work with (and a couple of family and friends who have asked) has been actively making plans to avoid winding up on Windows 10 for a while.

BTW, my comments on this issue are mild compared to a few I've heard when talking to the sysadmins at some of those businesses. The language some of those people used to describe Microsoft's attitude here isn't something you'd repeat in polite company, let's say.

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

How is having a system that remains up to date suddenly no longer the right tool for the job?

If it was working for whatever it was needed for before the update, and it wasn't after.

The entire point of the concern here is that Microsoft can and have pushed updates that are broken, and they can and have pushed updates that a lot of users didn't want and that had nothing to do with security (like the Windows 10 nag message).

Microsoft's idea of what constitutes an important update that I should definitely deploy and my idea of what constitutes an important update that I should definitely deploy have been diverging significantly for some time. My standard policy now is that I apply security updates, and unless I have a good reason to do otherwise, that is all I deploy.

That policy was a direct result of problems caused by earlier updates, and I think if you ask around you'll find a lot of sysadmins favour a similar strategy. Even if that weren't the case, the likelihood of Microsoft increasingly pushing unwanted changes that are in their own interest more than their users' seems high given their disclosed strategic plans and business model going forward.

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

Because now you're moving the goalposts. This is about forced driver updates (read the title).

The issue is bigger than that, and this story is just one early example of how forced updates could go wrong (read the summary, and for that matter numerous other discussions on this and other forums since the forced update mechanism became widely known a few days ago).

I'm happy for you that apparently the systems you use are all running Windows Enterprise, and the people who set them up and maintain them have no problem with spending time figuring out which settings to adjust to turn this stuff off. Obviously from the fact that we're having this discussion a lot of people didn't know to turn this off and got stung by it, and as I've noted repeatedly, there are analogous cases that could be just as damaging but which will not have the option to turn them off even in Pro. A lot of people are going to wind up getting hurt by this policy, even if you personally aren't one of them.

Comment Re:NVidea's problem, not Microsoft's (Score 1) 316 316

All true, but in general you can only defer updates for a few months even in Pro with Windows 10, or you lose the security updates as well. That change is actually worse than forcing everything on Home users immediately, IMHO, because it removes control from all the small businesses and power users who actually want/need it.

Any program which runs right is obsolete.