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Comment: Mixed feeling about this.... (Score 1) 255

by plusser (#34337026) Attached to: Once-Secret ACTA Copyright Treaty Approved By EU

I have some rather mixed feeling about this....

On one hand your have the music and film industry complaining about piracy of their product and being completely ignorant that their business model is out of date.

On the other hand there is the chance of counterfeit components appearing on cars, trains or aircraft that produce a serious hazard in a situation where potentially lives are at risk.

Mind you we have a third problem in that we have fake politicians that don't really know anything but what their advisors tell them.

Books

Bible.com Investor Sues Company For Lack Of Profit 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the isn't-it-ironic dept.
The board of Bible.com claims that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than to make money on the domain name, but an angry shareholder disagrees. From the article: "James Solakian filed the lawsuit in Delaware's Chancery Court against the board of Bible.com for breaching their duty by refusing to sell the site or run the company in a profitable way. The lawsuit cites a valuation done by a potential purchaser that estimated bible.com could be worth more than dictionary.com, which recently sold for more than $100 million."
Crime

Thief Returns Stolen Laptop Contents On USB Stick 352

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-been-a-pleasure-being-your-victim dept.
While it's true that Sweden is responsible for unleashing IKEA and ABBA on humanity, not everything they produce is terrible. Their thieves are some of the most considerate in the world. An unnamed professor at Umeå University received a USB stick with all his data after his laptop was stolen. From the article: "The professor, who teaches at Umeå University in northern Sweden, was devastated when ten years of work stored on his laptop was stolen. But to his surprise, a week after the theft, the entire contents of his laptop were posted to him on a USB stick. 'I am very happy,' the unnamed professor told the local Västerbottens-Kuriren newspaper. 'This story makes me feel hope for humanity.'"
Science

Your Feces Is a Wonderland of Viruses 211

Posted by timothy
from the and-so-can-you dept.
sciencehabit writes "Thanks to an anlaysis of fecal samples from four sets of Missouri-born female identical twins and their mothers, researchers have concluded that human guts harbor viruses as unique as the people they inhabit; the viral lineup differs even between identical twins. Even more surprising? These viruses may be doing good work inside of us."
Australia

Australia Gets Its First Female Prime Minister 419

Posted by samzenpus
from the sheila-in-chief dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Julia Gillard has been elected unopposed to the Labor leadership, seizing power in a bloodless Parliament House coup after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd decided not to contest this morning's leadership ballot. Ms. Gillard will now be sworn in as Australia's first female prime minister. Emerging from this morning's meeting, she said she felt 'very honored' and said she would be making a statement shortly. Treasurer Wayne Swan now steps up as deputy prime minister. He was also elected unopposed."
IBM

IBM Distributes USB Malware At Security Conference 73

Posted by kdawson
from the just-testing-ya dept.
bennyboy64 and other readers let us know that IBM sent out an email to all attendees to the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) 2010 conference, warning them that some of the USB drives handed out to delegates contained malware. Fortunately it was old malware, which all anti-virus products have detected since 2008. Two years ago telecommunications company Telstra distributed malware-infected USB drives at the same conference.

Comment: Re:Smaller engines would be a good start. (Score 1) 555

by plusser (#31711032) Attached to: White House Issues New Gas Mileage Standards

I've been to America several times and there are a few things that prevent this happening. First of all the Fiesta is far too small for your average American consumeer. These cars sell massively here in Ireland but they just won't work in America because you'll hear all of the horror stories about how they're not safe because they're small. Realistically the average weight and size of your average American citizen is a lot more too.

The current Ford Fiesta is exactly the same size as the mkI Ford Focus, which if I remember correctly was a big sales success for Ford in the USA. In fact the likelihood is that due to improved packaging, the chance is that the interior could be even bigger and have better crash protection.

True some Americans like big cars, but if the price of oil goes Northwards again (which appears likely, without even considering the impact of the AGW lobby), surely they will need to consider the fact that fuel consumption may be a factor in their next purchase.

I'll agree that the Ka is probably a bit too small and radical for the time being.

Comment: Re:Just Wondering (Score 1) 264

by plusser (#31710840) Attached to: David/Goliath Story Brewing Between Apple and iControlPad Makers

Since they are using jailbroken iPhones, it is quite possible that they are not paying Apple for the rights to use Apple's proprietary connector.

I'll think you will find that the connector is patented, so no doubt unless the manufacturer intend to licence the connector (which means the product will have to work with non-jailbroken iphones), they do not have much chance on challenging the patent, since they are already breaking one. It also makes me think that if the idea was so great then why didn't icontrolpad patent the idea themselves (after all, there were other touch screen based systems that could of done with something similar even before Apple launched the iPhone)

To be honest though, with what is being published on the icontrolpad website, surely it would be cheaper to build their own game console as they appear to be demonstrating games that were written for other handheld games platforms.

Comment: Re:SO many ways to confuse digital circuits (Score 1) 437

by plusser (#31655674) Attached to: Do Car Safety Problems Come From Outer Space?

Sorry, but I think your comments are a bit out of date.

1. Most cars these days use CANBUS as the main communication system. As a result the interconnections between each of the main Electronic Control Units within the car are transmitted via a differential signal, that is designed to be less susceptible to EM interference. Anyway, many digital circuit (even in cars and aircraft) operate at less than 5V these days due to the fact that modern microprocessors need lower voltages in order to operate faster. Ensuring that the electronic control unit is correctly installed is more of a problem; while the production line workers are highly trained to install the units properly in the car, the weakness is that after the car warranty has ended, virtually anybody can replace the electronic control unit.

2. Static electricity is more of a problem during construction of a unit rather than the operation. The problem is that static electricity will normally induce a latent failure that may take time to propagate itself. In order to avoid this, car electronic manufacturers take extreme caution in production cells to ensure that exposure to static electricity is kept to an absolute minimum (ground straps, conductive plans, restrictive access to production facilities etc...). The finished unit will almost certainly have lightening protection on external connectors that will clamp static electricity, so special installation facilities are not needed in the factory/garage.

3. While the operation range of under bonnet/hoot is typically -40 to +100C, automotive electronics today are built using high reliability components (for example components manufactured to one of the AEC-Q standards, that are in many cases now superior to MIL-Standard components in reliability and construction) that can in some circumstances operate up to 150C (for example the recent introduction of X8R dielectric for automotive applications).

4. In the setting of the inside of an electrical control unit, these kinds of problems would be identified and designed out during the development stage. This requires a lot of work, not only in ensuring that the PCB is laid out correctly, but testing of the unit to ensure that common interference such as mobile/cell phones, TV transmitters does not affect operation of the unit, while ensuring that the unit does not generate excessive interference. Unfortunately this does not always work, as the test environment may not necessarily be representative of the final installation. Therefore, in all cases the unit design will be re-tested installed in a vehicle under operating conditions using a vehicle EMC test chamber (a heavily screened room that contains a rolling road/Chassis Dynamometer). The object of these tests will be to ensure that to the best of the knowledge available, the vehicle design will not be subject to known electrical interference risks. However, what this cannot do is consider the implication of a poorly fitted control unit (as I explained in item 1)

The basic premises with all products, whether electrical or mechanical controlled, is economic risk. It is a fact that you cannot eliminate risk, but you can take action to reduce it. To be honest, as an electronic engineer whom has experience in the Military, Automotive Test and Aerospace industries, I think that the problems with the Toyota cars are down to a number of complex issues that few people can really appreciate. A lot of people will point at software, as this is a relatively poorly understood industry and most peoples experience is through Microsoft products, which are not normally used on equipment where there is a risk of personal injury or death. But in the end even here there are a number of problems that are not appreciated (control of which peripherals are connected, different graphics cards, motherboard type etc..) which can have an impact on system reliability.

The article referenced in this thread actually relates to a facility to which I am aware of (TRIMUF), as I happen to work with one of the leading specialists in the effects of atmospheric radiation in the aerospace industry. The problem is that the journalist in question does not understand the principles of the what he is explaining in that the following factors need to be considered:-

1. The feature size of the electronic components (i.e. typically where feature sizes are less than 200nm)
2. Materials used in the semiconductors (in particular Boron-10, which make the devices more susceptible)
3. The altitude at which the equipment is being operated
4. The design of the system and it tolerance to error and its ability to correct itself when they occur
5. The background radiation currently generated from space (i.e. solar activity)

From these factors, it would appear that unless a large proportion of the failures were happening in areas of high altitude (i.e. somewhere like to the Rockies, the Alps or Mexico City) during a known high solar activity (it is currently very low) and the failure mechanism affecting a large number of different cars (no car manufacturer produces semiconductors, so the likelihood is that Toyota use control units that contain the same electronics as other vehicle manufacturers). As can be seen this information would be statistically obvious, but since no evidence has been forthcoming, based on information provided, this cause of problems appears unlikely.

As an owner of a Toyota that was not affected by the recall relating to the pedal, I am certain that if there is a problem relating to electronics, it may be a combination of factors that have not be properly considered. I have seen suggestions that the problems may be related to EMC, poor programming, poor system design/lack of redundancy, lead free solder (tin whiskering), lack of control of third party suppliers, rush to increase size of business etc... However, part from the known problems with accelerators, I have seen no evidence from investigation into these effects, some of which could be independently verified. Until this information is forthcoming, I take everything as a bit of speculation.

Comment: Oh the irony (Score 4, Interesting) 177

by plusser (#31462740) Attached to: Apple Loses Aussie Trademark Complaint Over "i" Name

When talking of trademarks, the Australian Woothworths company actually had absolutely nothing to do with the FW Woolworth company and its famous US and UK stores (and apparently stores in other countries that are still trading under the Woolworths brand). One of the founders of the Australian company, Ernest Robert Williams, called the company Woolworths as part of a dare, only to find that FW Woolworth had not trademarked the name in Australia, therefore the trademark was deemed valid.

This highlight the issue of trademarks. Even in a globalised society, a company cannot expect by implication that its trademark will automatically be protected across the world, without registering the trademark correctly. If it were, could Volkswagen sue Apple for the use of the "i" letter since the company first used the designation on the Golf GTi in 1975?

Perhaps somebody could trademark the word iDIOT, to prevent situations like this from occurring.

Comment: The difference in administrating systems (Score 3, Informative) 365

by plusser (#31097922) Attached to: Australian Senate Hears Open Source Is Too Expensive

Sounds like we have a difference in administration approach between open source and closed source software.

Open Source
- It's Free
- But if you want something special you will need specialists to write the software and test it for you - Cost lots
- You'll have to pay for your own training
- If you change your computers in future, chances are the software may still be able to be made to work

Closed Source
- It's expensive
- Carefully researched product - will probably meet the needs of your business without much tailoring
- Training will be provided as part of package
- If you change your system in future, chances are you will need to buy the latest version of the software at greater expensive

Options for legacy systems
- virtualisation or emulation - but both have their own administration costs

However, there is one factor that I haven't discussed yet, that is the attitude and stability of the software vendor.
- Some vendors write such highly specialised versions of software that they change little between versions. If you are using such a system then is it probably worth risking the software being closed source.
- But some vendors want to maximise profit, so they will revise the software with short lifecycles and sometime be sneaky enough to remove commonly used features on more basic versions of the software, so that when you do upgrade you have to pay even more or change your processes around the lack of that particular feature.

The horrible truth is that IT companies have a habit of pulling wool of the eyes of governments. This is partly due to the fact that the requirements are often vague and incomplete, but also due to the complexity that governments insist on without understand the consequences. Fact is programming time is like any other engineering type function, it costs money.

With regard the the article, there is too little information to say whether the Australian Government have made the right choice. However, if you want to base the information on the experience with UK government, chances are the politicians have made a complete hash of whatever decision they have made, because they when want a system to perform too many different functions without realising that they are trying for levels of efficiency that could never be achieved, cost more money and finally ending up with a system that doesn't work properly due to fundamental design structures.

Sometimes it is best not to try and implement a one size fits all policy, but too break parts down into their constituents and build systems on a more modular basis. For example two departments may use software from different vendors and have to exchange data, with each other in a define way - the interface software could be open source based and maintained either by the company/organisation/government or a contractor. However, there will be a point when you get to the lack of diminishing returns when trying too hard costs even more, at which point you implement risk management and move on. The problem is that governments are full of people that think they "Know it All", but they in fact "Know everything about nothing" and don't understand when to stop arguing a case as they is no more benefit to what they are saying, obstructing proper process.

So to answer, Open Source or Closed Source - it depends on the application and how you understand the pitfalls.

Novell

Novell Bringing .Net Developers To Apple iPad 315

Posted by timothy
from the odd-confluence dept.
GMGruman writes "Paul Krill reports that Apple's new iPad could be easier to write apps for, thanks to Novell's MonoTouch development platform, which helps .Net developers create code for the iPad and fully comply with Apple's licensing requirements — without having to use Apple's preferred Objective-C. This news falls on the footsteps of news that Citrix will release an iPad app that lets users run Windows sessions on the iPad. These two developments bolster an argument that the iPad could eventually displace the netbook."

Comment: Be careful what you wish for (Score 2, Funny) 464

by plusser (#28152771) Attached to: EU Wants Multiple Browser Bundling On New PCs

I wonder whether as a result of this policy that IE6 becomes one of the many different browser options, just to keep happy those businesses with legacy code that wont work on anything else!

Now that really would cause Microsoft a headache - competing with its own lack of standards...

Not that many web designers will be happy with this though!

Comment: The real reason why business does not like Vista (Score 1) 242

by plusser (#25259083) Attached to: Maine To Skip Vista, Go Directly To Windows 7

is the fact that it ships with IE7 and not IE6.

Vista took too long to develop, but during that period too many software vendors wrote bad web interface code for business applications that would only work with IE6 and not IE7, Firefox, Oprah or any other browser. Let us face it, IE6 has known compatibility problems. This problem is compounded by the fact that Microsoft chose not to support IE7 on Windows 2000. Therefore, it did not make sense to repair this bad code if it meant that older machines would immediately become obsolete unless with XP or Vista was installed, especially as XP was made available as an alternative to Vista Business Edition allowing the burying of heads in sand.

If the bad code was rewritten to support any suitable browser, then most business would try and use a different operating system other than windows. That is probably why Microsoft have released their mistake and backtracked allowing business to continue to use XP. But this solution has a double edged sword that they need to be wary of; when Windows 7 arrives, will be be even less compatible with business software than Vista? With the way the economic downturn is going, by the problem software developers waiting and not planning to resolve the problems presented by Vista, how will these businesses survive much beyond 2010? and what impact will that have on Microsoft as a result?

As for home use, I have been using Vista for 12 months. Don't find many problems, but then I'm using the 32 bit edition and don't need to using web browser based business applications.

With regard to complaints about minimum specification, Vista 32 is ironically holding back the specification of home PCs due to its inability to address more than 4GB of RAM. It sounds like everybody will have to adopt a 64 bit Windows pretty soon.

If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else. -- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"

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