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Comment "new phase" aka Patent Armegeddon (Score 4, Interesting) 59

The patents in question, if they are proved valid, have far reaching applications. This will be bigger than the SCO Caldera Unix thing ever was.

  • The patents include: [web-copy-pasted From Ars article above]
  • Nos. 9,143,801 and 8,964,849, relating to "significance maps" for coding video data;
  • No. 8,116,739, describing methods of displaying messages;
  • No. 8,886,212, describing tracking location of mobile devices;
  • No. 8,688,439, relating to speech decoding and compression;
  • No.7,440,561, describing integrating wireless phones into a PBX network;
  • No. 8,554,218, describing call routing methods; and
  • No. 7,372,961, a method of generating a cryptographicpublic key.

So, how does this impact all of us?

First, they've already signed a cross licensing deal with Cisco. Cisco's paying them a license fee as well. What does Cisco get out of it? That last patent is against OpenSSL, specifically on the generation of X.509 certificates and certain cryptographic methods. (How? I thought that business methods weren't patent-able?). So, that includes certificate based VPNs, self-signed HTTPS certificates, and things like that found on the router. Since the method of generation appears to be patented, even work-alike implementations, e.g. LibreSSL, are probably in danger of lawsuits. So, for free, Cisco gets to single-handedly raise the cost of home and small business router appliances, and quite-possibly squeeze some of the smaller ones out of business. Not to mention punishing open firmware router implementations at the same time, such as SmoothWall, DD-WRT, and OpenWRT.

If history serves as any guide, Microsoft will be the next to pony up (Just like they did with SCO Unix). Microsoft would benefit greatly from this agreement. They'll get to squeeze the phone market and the Open Source ecosystem all at the same time. They'll probably cross-license with RIM, and make sure that WinMo is covered. Then they'd go to the phone manufacturers and sell it for less than they'd have to pay RIM for each phone with the infringing OpenSSL bits and Android installed. Google has already shown they've no interest in shielding their partners from patent litigation. RIM and Microsoft will likely start small, with Alcatel and Blu, and work their way up to HTC and Samsung. Similarly, MS will probably ask RIM to provide Linux licenses (which they will pay for their Azure instances), so they can attempt to force Google and Amazon to do the same.

It's not quite the end of the world though. Linux and open source have beaten overly broad patents before. We may be entering a period of long technological stagnation, while we wait to see what happens with all this.

Comment Re:Great. Want 5,000 of them? (Score 1) 180

Bah! I've got you one better. I'm looking at a IBM 6400, a LINE printer. Instead of a traveling head, like the serial matrix printer, it prints a line at time, and the speeds are measured in lines per minute. Takes that crazy big US fanfold (14 7/8" by 11"). It is still going strong 22 years after it was purchased. It's absolutely fantastic, but it's cabinet is all dinged and scratched up. Back cabinet door had to be removed because it wouldn't shut. Has its own closet now, so we can quiet it down. Has not had a driver since Windows 3.11 WFW, but works fine with ESC/P graphics with either Linux, MacOS X (oh yeah, it's just macOS now), or Windows. Except with Windows, you might have trouble with margins. Microsoft, tractor fed printers do not need margins! I eventually found an Epson DFX-5000+ driver that worked without margins (yes, even supported in Windows 10, no less), but I suppose the DFX-8500 or DFX-9000 drivers would have worked as well. Odd to use a serial matrix driver on a line printer, but it works great. Besides the usual printer maintenance (rollers, ink in the print heads and what have you), this thing will probably be going 50 years from now, and will likely only die because no one's making parts for it anymore. There's a Genicom 5100 next to it, but it looks pristine compared to the 6400 (it wasn't partially dropped off the back of the moving truck, so I'm told).

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 255

I think you've nailed it. The Xbox Live store (especially since it has the Gold tier membership), has to be hugely more profitable than the generic Windows Store. I suspect a consolidation is brewing. Maybe WinStore accounts are going to be migrated to WindowsLive accounts?

Comment Re:Even Linux Boxes? (Score 1) 255


Not unless you are running a Secure Boot (TM) authorized OS. On most firmware, we have options similar to ON (Secure) and OFF (Legacy). It will be trivial to have the hardware manufacturers set that to secure, be it in a firmware update or straight from the factory (e.g. Surface). Linux Secure Boot enabled OSes are Red Hat and possibly Fedora and CentOS. I think Ubuntu said they'd consider using Secure Boot signed binaries, but I don't know if they went through with acquiring the signing keys. In the Windows camp, Windows 7 is considered 'Legacy OS' (at least according to my motherboard). Windows 8 and 8.1 are grandfathered in for the short term.

I haven't owned a Mac in a while - does OpenFirmware have the option to disable Secure Boot? I suppose it must, I've seen at least one running Windows 7

Comment Re:Plenty of Windows 10 comparibility (Score 1) 186

Yes, they do. I've got a two old Dell Laptops that I saved from the dumpster after someone left their pallet after a university auction, It is a machien from 2005, now running Windows 8.1 (32 bit), even though it didn't want to. I installed it anyway, and used the OmegaDriver to get that ATi video chipset working. It *says* it is a Radeon X1600 mobility on the sticker, but from what I understand, it is really Radeon 9000/9200 era silicon. Both AMD and Nvidia are bad about overstating (read lying) about their mobility video chipset capabilities in laptops.

Anyway, 10 flat-out refuses to install. The message states, "Your hardware vendor has not yet provided updates for this model," and "You may not upgrade to Windows 10 yet." It's still sitting on the HD, taking up space, but this old Dell is never going to get the update from Dell, Inc. You'd think that MS would take the hint. I can probably force it, but I suspect that the old hacked driver won't work in 10. I think that's why the Omega driver guy gave up - not to mention that newer laptops were also accepting generic drivers.

The 2nd has an Intel 915GM, so it had no problems with 8.1, at first. Sadly the 2nd has a BIOS bug that, in anything OS newer than Vista (or any version of Linux), will randomly corrupt the memory heap when the video card requests more memory. Without asking, it starts randomly writing pages of VRAM data into the OS address space. I can repeat this reliably in Linux running the OpenGL benchmarks. There's one with a spinning horse model that reliably causes the crash. It would be compatible with 10 - if it wouldn't blow up the memory anytime 3D or OpenGL was activated. I believe by default, it uses just 1MB of video memory, which is find for GDI, but anything more than that and you're going to BSOD.

Of course, Dell says: "That's an XP certified machine, runs fine with XP, so do so. We'll fix this problem on a couple of newer machines (and one older one) with this setup, but not that one, because we discontinued the Vostro line."
Even with all that, I'd still buy Dell over HP/Compaq, because Dell machines don't actively self destruct within 3 years of purchase. Most HP/Compaqs I've seen in (small) business have either 1) external daughtercard for video, which will over time overheat (of course) and warp its way out of the right angle socket (ATi), or 2) use Nvidia chipsets that self-destruct precisely 30 days outside of warranty.

Comment Re:Well.... (Score 1) 231

... juvenile kids ... group home

The Juvenile Hall (aka juvy) is a place for people under the age of 18 that are under house arrest. It's pretty close to jail in that they cannot leave, but there is a lot of counseling in addition to some community service. Counselors are trying to reform rather than punish. The crimes that can get you juvy vary from low end theft and property damage up to manslaughter and molestation. When freed, the juvenile record is generally sealed.

Lately, there's been a big push in the US to punish even 14 year olds as adults, and send them to adult prisons, complete with adult prison terms, and all the downsides that come with that - no right to vote, no 2nd amendment right to bear arms, parole officers, crap jobs (if you can even get one), and if you get fired or miss a parole meeting, well, back to jail for you! Former prisoners are a subclass in American society, like the Untouchable caste in Asian and Middle Eastern societies.

Comment Linux Java tarballs 2016 (Score 1) 492

Java can be a bear to install yourself from the tarball. That's why nobody (as far as i know) does it like that. There's a Webupd8 team that has a Debian/Ubuntu/Mint PPA. That'll install recent Javas for you - and keep them up to date, and, additionally, integrating with /etc/alternatives, so that you can have several versions on the machine at once.

That said, running all the different versions at once might not be a good thing for your machine's RAM, but you can - if you have the need to.

Comment Re:What did he use of Konami's, exactly? (Score 1) 118

That's right! He could've made "Super Stealthy Mario Bros: Extreme Tactical Espionage Plumbing" Edition, the version where Mario eats the wrong mushroom, grows huge, and then irradiates the wrong mushrooms and turtles in a secret nuclear facility. Unhappy that Mario is a big boss about stomping mushrooms, they kidnap Mario's mushroom retainers and Princess Toadstool... er, wait, Princess Daisy, .. no - I got it! Princess Peach. To defend themselves against Mario and his brother Luigi, they'll create 'Metroid', a giant walking tank with the nuclear capabilities, driven by Justin Bailey. She'll be the blue haired female pilot that will serve as the final boss for the brothers.

There! That's probably different enough that Konami will no longer have a problem with it. There's probably enough material there to squeeze out a couple of sequels, too.

Comment Re:What is the point of the Windows Store? (Score 1) 209

Problem with platforms is, sometimes they explode or catch on fire. As someone famously said:

“There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour."

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour."


Thank you, Mr Elop!

Why do people want to switch to the Unified Windows Platform again? This platform may not explode, software can be left unsupported, deprecated, or superseded. For similar examples from Microsoft, see Stacker/Doublespace, Zune, PlaysForSure, Windows CE, Windows Java (and/or J#), and the WinPhone 7 to 8 transition.

[1] Wall Street Journal paywall/limited access.

Comment Re:allow 'destruction' orders.... (Score 1) 186

What if the thing that is enabling circumvention is the fact that somebody is smart? Do they destroy every programmable product that person owns, or do they destroy the person?

Well, people have been asking for it, and now, here it is, the Corporate Death Penalty! Coming soon to a city-state near you. We can eliminate threats to Intellectual Property and not tie up the local court systems. We can handle these recalcitrant individuals ourselves. We will have justice for our IP, it has rights, you know, it says so in the TPP. . .
Wait, what!? You wanted the ability to use it on Corporations? Citizen, no! These institutions are the job creators. Destroying them would be hazardous to local and the global economies. You may have victory against us, but in the meantime, you'd have wars, famine, plague, and pestilence because we wouldn't be around to provide for you. You shouldn't want that - no one really wants that. If you do, well, you should see the company doctor. It's provided here, in your wage-slave contract. Don't worry, your contract provides you with six hours of free time per week, with an additional whole day++ off. ++24 hour 'day off' period will typically be surrounded by 2 12-hr work periods. You are expected to sleep a minimum of 6 hours after every 12 hour work period, and at least 6 hours before a 12 hour work period. Remember, a sleepy worker, is an unproductive worker, and unproductive workers will receive only 1/2 pay.
And remember, you cannot destroy us, for we are too big to fail!

This view of your future brought has been brought to courtesy of the TPP, and underwritten by East Asian Motors.

Comment Re:Yup (Score 1) 89

The problem with a retail copy is that your software that rips it is invariably going to place its own timestamps and other variations in the file, so your checksum likely won't be valid. An MSDN subscription is also likely too expensive for most people.

This is decidedly not true, even back in the Windows 98 days. From what I recall, all you had to do was to ensure that the disc had the same name.

If you buy a computer that has Windows installed, and it comes with a COA, then you already own a paid copy of Windows. If you look at the license terms, the COA itself is proof that you own a copy of Windows, and so long as you install the same edition (home, pro, etc) and license channel type (retail, upgrade, OEM) to match that COA, then it's not a pirated copy. Want a simple way to ensure that? Easy: Download the best version possible (i.e. for 7, get ultimate, for 8+, get pro) and then when it asks, just type in the key listed on the COA. It will automatically select the version you've paid for and install it, and likewise it will even activate just fine with Microsoft's servers (or call in, if necessary.)

Also not true. There's a way outside Microsoft to pre-activate software (at least Windows 7). All that are needed are some certificate files in the OEM/$$/OOBE section of your install DVD or USB.

Let me direct you to MDL, specifically the Projects & Applications area. To be clear, this is not a piracy site, this is just a bunch of hackers working on things like BIOS mods (allowing your laptop to run all WiFi cards / unlocking hidden menus), Pre-install activation, retail copies from digital river, and K-M-S servers for Enterprise and VL versons of Windows. Not for piracy, but just so they can figure out how those things work.

Anyway, back on topic, it's easy to roll your own disc to do a fresh install, as long as you can get it from a trusted location. Sadly, as of Windows 7, you can no longer slipstream service packs into your source discs, so you have to download each new version manually. I'd been slipstreaming Service Packs back into my discs since the Windows 2000 days. was a great reference for getting ISOs to boot off of CD ROMs that had the El Torito extensions required.

Comment Re: Interesting, thank you I will try this out (Score 1) 89

No, the sticker is NOT guaranteed to work with a RETAIL or MSDN ISO. If you can get an ISO from that OEM it will likely work, but you still might have to activate by phone MS. If you grab a Dell OEM disc for a HP computer, you certainly will.

Instead of going that route, get a couple of extra files from the OEM Project, and you can install pre-activated copies of Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1. Here's a link to the project. Good luck.

There is also a z_a_D Loader (reverse those letters and remove the underscores) on that site. It could help you, in the case he has a Dell motherboard in a HP case, and wishes to have HP branding instead of Dell. Windows 7 only, and disk cannot have GPT. I know nothing about it though. You didn't hear it from me.

Comment Re:Amber: Journeys Beyond (Score 2) 106

Yeah, you were basically required to have QEMM and a boot disk if you wanted to run those games. IIRC, they required 602kB of the 640kB of memory. That's not a small feat when you consider that DOS kernel, is in there, as well as HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE. With QEMM, you could shim some of the programs into the no mans land between 640kB and 1 MB, leaving more low memory available for playing games. Some games, most notably Ultima 7, had their own memory manager technology (VooDoo Memory Manager, IIRC), that were completely incompatible with QEMM. Ultima 7 would run under DOS 3.3, 4, and 6. But not 5, as sucked up too much low memory. By the DOS 6 days, MS had figured out QEMM was doing, and incorporated bits of it into DOS. I wonder if that was because of DesqView, Quarterdeck's multi-tasking offering.

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