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Comment: Not the PSUs? The actual cables? (Score 2) 135

by Cyberdyne (#47763725) Attached to: HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

How do you fuck something like that up?

All too easily it seems; my first MacBook Pro power lead caught fire a few years ago as well. This was the low-voltage (hence high current) end, though: in their quest to make everything thin and light, the cable was thin and flimsy, so one of the braided conductors frayed after a while. More current going down a thinner wire meant more heat - which softened the remaining copper and made the problem worse, until arcing started and I got a micro-firework display on my desk. (One of is successors managed to melt the plastic in the plug, that didn't make me happy either!)

On the mains end, even a hefty (for laptops) 300-odd watt PSU is only 3A from a US outlet, half that on the higher voltages elsewhere - usually easy enough to deal with, but one sloppy connection and you can get a tiny point getting very hot indeed. It's worse on the low voltage end: a single cable possibly carrying 20 or more amps, while getting rolled up, folded and stood on in transit, designed to be very light weight - yet also done on a budget. As soon as you start trying to shave weight and cost, I suspect it's all too easy for a wire to be just slightly too thin for the current, or a connection to be a little bit too weak for long term mobile use.

If you were building a high school or college electronics project and said you planned to run laptop currents and voltages through such thin wires and tiny connectors, you'd probably be told off or marked down - but commercially, thin, light and cheap trump safety margins and robustness.

Comment: Re:Expert?? (Score 1) 442

by Cyberdyne (#47693501) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

There is no such thing as negative energy price, unless you're retarded? Why would you pay someone to take your excess energy, when you can just dump it into the atmosphere through a resistor heating element? They are not that expensive, even if you have to finance one. Of course you might be benevolent and give it away for free, or even exert some effort out of love to they neighbor, and pay some for him to take it, but in a selfish capitalist view you can get rid of energy very easily, it's not like trash that is costly to get rid of.

You might not have a massive resistor handy at the instant you need it, but I suspect subsidies will play a part in this. If you get paid a certain subsidy per unit of electricity you produce, in addition to receiving whatever the wholesale price is at the time, you could still end up turning a profit by paying someone to receive your surplus electricity. (In Europe, there are also obligations for power companies to get a certain % of power from renewable sources - so it could be better for them to take this power now, giving it away for free or even paying a big industrial customer a tiny bit to use it, just to meet the government targets.) Hopefully, dumping that power into your own resistor bank doesn't earn you subsidy payments!

Comment: Re:Cox (Score 1) 93

by Cyberdyne (#47689185) Attached to: Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

I'm currently working on a project for Cox Communications in which they are chemically dissolving the foam inside of the coaxial cable conduit & then air blowing fiber through the newly created space inside the conduit. Pretty cool stuff. This avoids the costs associated with permitting, digging new trench & burying separate fiber conduit & they can use the DWDM hardware they already have on hand instead of buying new systems like this.

Wow, that is neat. (At first, I misinterpreted that as dissolving the foam dielectric inside the itself - which could also be neat at some point, for doing FTTH, but rather more demanding.) I take it this is the "final mile" conduit between the cabinet and individual homes, or is it just pushing the HFC boundary down to street level for much shorter runs of coax?

Comment: Re:Fibre optic is almost her (Score 1) 93

by Cyberdyne (#47689077) Attached to: Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

Why are we still flogging the dead horse?
FTTH will always outperform copper, without exception, and it's gaining traction quicker than the telco would embrace G.Fast

In the long term yes - but the economics are very different short term. A couple of telco engineers could install VDSL2 (or, presumably, for a whole wiring cabinet - a hundred or more households - in the time it would take to run fiber to a single one of those premises. Apart from anything else, it seems right now all the engineers are busy installing those FTTC services; switching them to putting in more FTTP/FTTH would not only mean more expense, it would take longer, leaving everyone else on ADSL for longer. I suspect things will be different in a few years, once that FTTC rollout is complete and manpower is freed up.

I actually have the option of FTTH right now, if I wanted: 330 Mbps down, 30 Mbps up, using GPON. The problem is, I'd have to pay heavily for it: high three figures installation, then a three year contract lock-in at GBP 100 per month - just for the line to the exchange, that doesn't include any actual Internet connectivity! Needless to say, I'm staying on FTTC (VDSL2) for now: 80 Mbps down and 20 up, for a fraction of that price.

Now, when it comes to new housing, it's another matter: if you've got to go and dig up a road anyway to put in the wires to a new housing development, it's much the same cost whether it's copper or glass you put in (or both). So, you can sometimes get a fiber connection for the price of VDSL2!

Comment: Re:Seems like it would've worked (Score 1) 97

by Cyberdyne (#47688809) Attached to: How California's Carbon Market Actually Works

Sadly, much of it comes from coal, but e.g. in Norway a huge amount comes from hydroelectric plants. That is why oil refining and metalworking is a large industry in Norway.

Yes, Norway's quite good in that respect - as is the US Pacific North-West, as I recall: the abundant hydro-electric power gave Microsoft and Amazon a cheap, clean electricity supply for their early "cloud" offerings. Eroded now by global expansion, I think: once they built huge hosting sites elsewhere, they used whatever power was present in that area, usually something much less clean. Of course, Norwegian oil refining activity will also be boosted significantly by the small detail of having a major oil supply, unlike other European countries...

I've seen a few hosting outfits offering "carbon neutral" services, which I think you can do quite affordably by locating somewhere with suitable clean power. A bit of a niche market compared to more mainstream hosting services, but there's obviously some demand there.

In a sense, CA is getting what it voted for: stamping out "dirty" industry. Other countries are getting what their governments want/permit: economic growth, regardless of CO2 etc. I suspect both will regret it to some extent and change course: China has a major smog problem and is trying to clean up, CA has a major economic problem and power shortfall and will have to give that a higher priority soon, if it isn't already.

Comment: Re:Microsoft naming practices (Score 1) 426

They need to pick a name which is similar, to be identifiable, but less tarnished by past bad experiences. I propose Infernal Excrement: still "IE", but much less off-putting than the name they have soiled so badly with IE6 and other fiascoes.

To be fair ... it does suck much less now. I suppose it's rather like working for a surviving offshoot of Enron or Lehman Bros... Who, thinking about it, have probably done less economic damage globally than IE has.

Comment: Re:Dead as a profit source for Symantec, well, ... (Score 2) 331

by Cyberdyne (#47688447) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

Othervise, it would have been nice to allow only certain binaries or software developers/publishers to run. It would also be nice to sign the binaries and not allow changes.

That would be less help than you might expect (although OS X does do exactly this by default now). Remember all those Word macro viruses of a few years ago? Totally unaffected: it's a genuine copy of MS Word that's running, it's just doing something it really, really shouldn't be. Likewise any browser exploit. Trojans have always relied on the user to execute - and in general, they will execute them, whatever dire warnings you may put in place, unless you can give them a totally locked down system (which, even in a strict corporate setting, is often politically impossible). In a University setting, I've had very senior academics call me up with "I can't open this CampusLife.pdf.exe file someone sent me ... and it won't open on my secretary's PC either." Of course it was malware - but any computer restrictions to prevent that would probably have resulted in unemployment rather than a more secure PC. Telling people at the top of the food chain "you aren't allowed to do that" just won't work. (Fortunately, opening that particular worm did nothing anyway - it either relied on Outlook, or having outbound port 25 open, neither of which applied at that time.)

Ultimately, for anything more than the most limited functionality, you will have security holes - just like you will get hard drives and power supplies failing, keyboards and mice getting choked up with gunk. Reduce the risks where it makes sense (RAID and redundant PSUs for servers, good patch management, sensible firewall settings) and then deal with things that go wrong effectively when it does happen (spares, backups, etc).

Like real life, take sensible security precautions - but going too far can do as much harm as having poor security. Do you drive everywhere in an armored vehicle with armed escorts? Unless you're POTUS or equivalent, that would just be silly - I seem to recall there have been cases of people dying after getting trapped in "panic rooms" after false alarms, because medical help couldn't get to them in time! So, don't be the computer equivalent: blocking attachments entirely is secure, but is it useful?

Comment: Re:Dead as a profit source for Symantec, well, ... (Score 4, Interesting) 331

by Cyberdyne (#47688349) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

The controller feels that this is more or less an acceptable trade-off over time -- my labor cost to rebuild the PCs vs. the ongoing cost of AV.

They are probably right there - of those 3 rebuilds, how many do you think would have been prevented by paying more for any given AV product? Thinking back, I can remember several PCs needing recovery work because of the AV system in use (good old McAfee pulled down an update which declared a piece of Windows XP itself to be malware and need deletion - leaving a machine you couldn't log in to until that file was reinstalled), and probably two nasty infections for me to clean, which got in despite McAfee being present with fairly paranoid settings.

Comment: Re:Technical People (Score 1) 194

by Cyberdyne (#47681363) Attached to: The Billion-Dollar Website

Technical people should have the professionalism to analyse requirements and check that the requirements fit the purpose. Unfortunately the way of the world is that technical people would be quickly shuffled out of the way by sales and marketing if they started to reduce revenue by telling a customer what they really wanted instead of what the spec says.

All too true, sadly. Tendering processes seem to exacerbate this: when a government control freak puts out a document announcing that the government is really determined to buy a chocolate teapot, whatever the price, the bidder saying "here's a stainless steel teapot which will do the job for $5" gets dumped, while the one saying "we'll stick bars of premium Swiss chocolate together with chewing gum for $1m" gets handed the million - then another million to patch the chocolate teapot with cement to make it hold hot liquids. Then it turns out they were actually needing a milkshake dispenser in the first place but didn't understand anything about beverages, so they have to start again from scratch, $2m down.

One large government contract I was involved in stipulated in minute detail exactly what error message had to appear when the service was offline. There was no SLA, however, not even an incentive in the contract to improve it! (This was the result of the previous project for that department having been a high-profile failure, with servers overwhelmed by the load. The bureaucrats responded to that with "next time, let's make sure it can show an error when busy!" rather than requiring scalability or load tests.) On the bright side, the winning bidder had the integrity to make sure it didn't fall apart anyway.

Comment: Re:Seems like it would've worked (Score 4, Insightful) 97

by Cyberdyne (#47681229) Attached to: How California's Carbon Market Actually Works

I can see it now--we'll have trans-Pacific transmission lines from India and China!

No, just more imported products of energy-intensive industrial processes, like steel and aluminum. It's already happening to an alarming extent in Europe for exactly that reason, with large metal-working plants (which can consume hundreds of megawatts each) getting moved overseas. Just because you can't import the electricity itself doesn't mean the resulting products have to be made in the US!

Comment: Tail Fins (Score 1) 220

by Sloppy (#47662727) Attached to: Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

What's the obsession with...[computer enclosure flavor of the month]?

There was a cartoon in some [Amiga-oriented, I think?] magazine about a quarter century ago. It was a guy showing off a computer in an unusual case, saying "We figured out what users want isn't more power or increased applications, but rather, really cool tail fins."

Comment: Re:Cat blog (Score 1) 148

by Cyberdyne (#47639355) Attached to: Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption

But, but... That doesn't make any sense!
Using HTTP, the connection isn't encrypted in either direction. If they can see the original request, they can also see the original response, so why not just cache that?

It's an absolutely crazy implementation, I agree (particularly speaking as someone implementing something which analyzes HTTP downloads right now). It's not caching, but some sort content analysis; my guess, and it is only a guess, is that it's intended as a workaround to copyright. Genuine caching is OK, for cacheable content, but I don't think this use would be covered by that copyright exemption: by fetching their own copy from the server like a regular web spider, they're no longer "making a copy". The other possibility is bandwidth: being a major ISP, it might be easier to intercept only the requests in-line, then queue them up for spidering by a separate system; intercepting the downloaded content as well would mean forcing all traffic through the analysis system in realtime.

Mine just hashes and logs the objects as they get fetched. Of course, I'm doing it in the firewall, with the user's knowledge and consent. I just remembered, though, a friend who works for an anti-malware vendor company mentioned to me that their security proxy does the same bizarre duplication rather than scanning in transit, which IIRC screwed up music streaming services, so presumably there's a good reason for that. (Weird, because if I were shipping malware, I'd find that all too trivial to circumvent by serving different content to the client and the scanner.)

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein