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Comment Re:For those who may have forgotten (Score 1) 57

That certain was an important decision, but the Bell System was still requiring customers to have expensive coupler equipment installed for many years afterwards (that article was from 1974). Those couplers involved transformers that would have made even 56k modems impractical, much less DSL.

For sure, where I lived, the Bell breakup was the dividing line, after which we were allowed to buy phones from someone other than the phone company. I still remember when we got our first non-Bell telephone, though I was a young kid at the time, and it was after Bell broke up. More amusingly, we weren't even in Bell territory; we were served by GTE. That's how wide-ranging the implications of the breakup were. It rocked the industry, and changed things pretty dramatically for the better.

Comment Re:Yes, deleted files are (sometimes) recoverable (Score 1) 59

For spinning rust that works just fine, most of the time. Flash is another story entirely. It's likely that your overwrites will get put into _other_ free cells, and the flash controller will mark the cells you're trying to overwrite as free, rather than overwriting them. Depending on your usage patterns, they might _never_ get overwritten. Aaaaaaand we're back to the problem we were trying to solve... just one layer lower. :(

There actually is a way, but it involves creating a file that's as big as the remaining space on the volume, to ensure that there are no flash pages that don't get rewritten. And even then, that doesn't quite guarantee that it will get overwritten because the flash page you're trying to overwrite could get spared and replaced with a free page. Obviously if you do that enough times, it will eventually get overwritten, but you'll also drastically shorten the life of the flash disk.

A better solution, of course, is to have a flash controller that supports TRIM properly and guarantees that overwritten pages get zeroed in a timely manner. If you have that, then overwriting the data once is sufficient, because the data will eventually get zeroed. And frankly, there's no good reason for a flash controller to not aggressively erase pages that are no longer tied to the filesystem (the old version of the data), because they are unlikely to ever be used again.

Comment Re:Not a SQLite problem (Score 1) 59

In SQLite, you can do "PRAGMA secure_delete=ON;" and it will subsequently overwrite all deleted information with zeros. This is turned off by default because it does more disk I/O. Alternatively, one can run "VACUUM" at any time to ensure that all deleted content has been purged from the database file.

The concern goes deeper than just disk I/O. On flash, there's a limited number of writes per flash erasure block, and using it in a mode that continuously overwrites everything you delete significantly increases the rate at which you burn through those write cycles. The OS is likely to coalesce a lot of those writes if they happen close enough together, but you're still abusing the hardware pretty badly by doing that.

The right approach is to come up with a reasonable policy for retention, e.g. "Guaranteed to not retain data more than n hours" and then vacuum the database every n hours, or when the OS tells you that your app is about to get terminated (assuming you can safely do it in such a short time), or when your app gets backgrounded (if you can't). Either way, vacuuming constantly is bad for the hardware, and never vacuuming is bad for security. The key is to find the right balance, and that pretty much requires your programmers to know that this issue exists, which most SQLite users no doubt do not.

And a couple of aspects of the design of iOS contribute to this problem negatively. If this were on a real computer:

  • You'd probably have a MySQL or PostgreSQL instance holding that data, and it would scrub periodically in the background. You can't do that you iOS, because you can't have a background daemon running when your app isn't running, so everybody ends up using SQLite, which is just barely enough of a database to be usable.
  • You wouldn't have the OS killing your app randomly while it is backgrounded, making it impractical to guarantee that you'll get n seconds to scrub every so many hours.

I'd love to see iOS add a centralized SQL database running on it at all times, with periodic scrubbing, with the ability to selectively share tables across apps, etc.

Comment For example (Score 1) 15

Blocklist: Trump, Hilary, Clinton, DNC, RNC, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, gun control, s**t, f**k, h**l, ...

Actual posts filtered:

  • Google Trumps Apple as #1 on NASDAQ
  • California Drought Finally Over? Green Grass Says "Maybe"
  • Shitake Mushrooms Pulled Over E. Coli Concerns
  • Hello. My Name is...

Word bans don't work. They never did. To do this right would involve significant amounts of machine learning, and you wouldn't need a list of things to ban if they were doing that.

Comment Re:For those who may have forgotten (Score 3, Interesting) 57

Are you kidding? The breakup removed Bell's ability to prevent people from attaching arbitrary non-Bell equipment to the phone lines, which made modems practical, which basically made the Internet viable. It also made multiple long distance carriers available to a lot more people than had options previously, which was responsible for a lot of the cash that Sprint eventually used to build a cellular network. So basically, we have the Internet and multiple cellular carriers because the government broke up Ma Bell.

Comment Re:This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 2) 245

Not necessarily. Take a look at the relevant portion of the Lantham Act. It would have to fit one of the provisions therein. It might make a false suggestion of affiliation, but it's arguable.

15 U.S.C. 1125 - False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden

(a) Civil action

(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which

(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities,

shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

Comment This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 1) 245

You violate a trademark if you mis-represent a good or service as that of the trademark holder. And it has to be in the same trademark category that they registered. Having a trademark does not grant ownership of a word, and does not prevent anyone else from using that word. Use of a trademark in reporting and normal discussion is not a violation.

Comment Re:Teams (Score 1) 245

There's only one sane way for companies to respond: by continuing to post about the Ol****cs, but avoid using any of their trademarked terminology. For example, they could censor it (eg. Ol****c G***s), or even better, use hashtag #LameGames reflecting the way they are running things.

And if they sue, countersue. Try for at least a ten-figure payout.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 103

I have the front panel of the VAX 11/780 used to render that scene hanging on my wall, but I got to Pixar after that project. This year and last I've contributed some designs that will fly on a FEMA satellite, and a long time ago did a little work to support the Biosciences mission on the shuttle.

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