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Comment Re: programming tosh (Score 1) 285

@Big Hairy Ian

In the end we're all writing Machine Code we've just wrapped it up in a nicer package is all


Toggled in the binary code for any bootloaders recently? Addressed any registers lately in C? Dealt with any vectorising and prefetching in C in the past week? Inserted an NOP's in C recently to keep nasty timing stuff from hapening?

No? Then you're clearly talking nonsense. The C virtual machine is way different from the processor it targets.

Just as driving a car is different from dealing with a water-cooled internal combustion engine, a gearbox, a drivetrain, the suspension, brake disks, a chassis and a set of wheels.

You'd never get anywhere if you tried. Same with assembler, let alone machine code.

Comment In essence: computing has grown up (Score 5, Insightful) 449

Let's face it: computing has grown up.

Take application development. Pioneering has been replaced by engineering. Great for making complicated and reliable products, not so great for empowerment of the individual. Software engineering tends to be teamwork. Depending on how "standard" the required end product is you can parcel out the interface design, the overall apllication design, the datastructures, the core algorithms, data management, and housekeeping. Could be 3-50 software engineers in a team. Used to be 1 programmer doing all of that.

Take high-performance programming. It used to be an art. Found e.g. in DOD stuff, scientific software, and games. Often in assembler, for speed. Nowadays that's mostly out. Certainly for scientific software. You use compilers of even scripting languages that call libraries to do the heavy lifting. You're quite unlikely to do better than the library builders. If you're writing some really new algorithm, you'll code it in C/C++. If absolutely necessary, you can make that code tunable (array stride, blocksize, etc.) and write an algorithm to optimise those parameters for your specific hardware (like e.g. BLAS). If it's too slow, buy better hardware. If it's still too slow, get access to a Hadoop cluster and parallelise your algorithm.

Take datacommunication. In the early days datacommunication meant controlling some UART and sending squiggles down a wire. Now it's calling a packaged protocol stack and talking to the appropriate protocol layers. More often than not that's the connection or session layer or higher ... unless you are a specialised networking engineer.

As for computer users as clients: the nerdy types are dying out. What today's consumer wants is things like smartphones and tablets. And what do they want it for? To surf the web (shopping, news, amusement (e.g. video torrents, Youtube)), and to waste time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and various chats. If they somehow want a desktop computer, they'll only know it for the OS it runs. That would be "Windows" or "Apple" (meaning macOs, but Apple users typically don't know that). And that's what the industry is giving them. Want "Basic Freddoms" ? Bugger off and run Linux, you freak.

So, yes. Computing as a product has become commoditised and geared towards the mass market. It's not easy to turn a buck by catering for nerds: the real money is in serving customers. And it shows. Consumer-grade users get a consumer-grade experience plus consumer-grade treatment (read: DRM, spyware, bloatware).

Those who want to play around with a computer however never had it better. For less than 50$ you can get a complete Raspberry Pi system (or a lookalike) that's more powerful than a clunky old PC. For 500$ you can get performance you used to have only on workstations, and for 1500$ you can get the same power you used to need a supercomputer for.

The only thing stopping you is know-how, time and interest. But that's not the industry's fault,

Comment Politics guarantees ineffective measures (Score 2) 40

Fairly obvious it might be, but it's also fairly obvious that quite a lot of manufacturers simply chose to ignore the problem.

And why?

It costs money to think of the problem, it costs even more money to evaluate any risks, it costs still more money to think about fixing them, and it's downright expensive to actually implement any fixes.

Incorporating cyber-security risk management will be part of the development process as soon as people are willing to pay for it. Which they aren't, because they can't see it so they can't even check it's there. Plus, it's probably a lot cheaper to just settle with any victims out of court than to bust a gut trying to turn medical devices into electronic fortresses. So don't count on the market to fix anything.

This seems a typical case where "self-regulation" is dead on arrival and only statutory safety requirements will get results. But that's not happening because of politics. Conservative politics to be precise. Pussyfooting about where industry regulations are concerned is the reason we're seeing such a lot of unsafe devices.

Expect that to continue for the next 4 years. Until and unless someone can whip up a juuuge scare story about ISIS sabotaging medical devices in the US. Oh wait ... what will happen then is that they'll shut down the Internet within half a mile of any hospital and start a fresh bombing campaign wherever. Ok, that won't work.

Perhaps if some reality star is killed through a hacked medical device? Or a photogenic child?

Comment Those firms got it right (Score 4, Interesting) 442

Just for you I'll explain.

Those financial firms (many of them US banks) cater to the EU rather than Britain. While Britain was in the EU it made sense to set up shop in London. Good place to live, they speak English over there, good timezone, good communications, adequate and halfway familiar legal environment, sufficient critical mass of a raft of supporting firms, relatively liberal trading rules (for Europe), their customers just a phone call or a 1-3 hour flight away, and zero complications doing business with anyone else in the EU. That's what the EU was designed for. Life was good.

Various other EU countries might have preferred the seat of all that financial service to be in their own country instead of London. Financial firms provide high quality jobs and have a high (taxable) turnover. Only they couldn't do shit about it. EU guarantees free exchange of services and the most influential players (US banks) happened to prefer London. Not in the last place because London and the UK really listened to industry demands (knowing full well what they stood to lose if they didn't). So London it was. End of story.

Enter Brexit.

Brexit means the UK leaves the EU and has to negotiate terms on which to continue trading. The most basic terms of free trade (WTO--level) ensure free movement of goods but NOT free movement of services. Which EU membership guarantees, only that's what Britain is ending. So Britain is very much the asking party here.

Anyone prepared to bet that other EU countries (like Ireland) will be eager to let Britain keep all that yummy taxable business? And those jobs? When they can simply negotiate away London-based firms' comfy access to the EU, grab the jobs and (part of) the revenue? Really?

Those financial firms sure aren't. The incoming US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (see ) isn't (see ). I wouldn't either.

People who bet that Britain will keep providing financial services to Europe surely aren't picking the best odds here.

Comment Conduct testing where there's no harm (Score 2) 150

Autonomous cars are at the start of a long learning curve. One that might take a decade to complete.

So where do you carry out the live experiments to slide down that learning curve?

Someplace where driving is complicated and where you have a lot of opportunities to kill people like California, or someplace where there's enough room and people are sparse like Arizona?

No prizes for coming up with Arizona.

When those autonomous cars have proven themselves there is ample time to allow them in more densely populated areas. Which is where those cars can generate the most revenue.

Seriously, what's the problem with that?

Comment Re:Wiping servers? (Score 3, Insightful) 534

We know. Hillary wasn't elected, Trump was.

And he really doesn't like it when the evidence contradicts him. Especially not when it reflects on the (in)advisability of his policies.

He might not personally order a wipe, but with a view to running the country as a business, he has appointed some "climate sceptics" who could very well appoint like-minded trustees to actively realign publicly funded research efforts with national priorities, restructure research departments with a view to national needs, and focus monetary and computing resources in accordance with those needs and priorities.

Translation: he has appointed a few idiots who in turn might appoint a posse of yahoos who see it as their mission in life to vanish anything or anyone the boss doesn't like and hide the evidence. As in: fire anyone who openly says global warming is a fact, have their funding cut, their computing resources confiscated, and their data wiped. That's what "running the country like a business" means, you know.

Given that perspective ... why not extend and enhance current backup policies to guarantee continuity of valuable research data with an eye towards potential refocusing of research priorities and allocation of means.

Tanslation: why not save an offshore copy of your work while you still can?

Ordinary precaution I'd say.

Comment Typical precursor to heavy-handed legislation (Score 3, Interesting) 149

It's interesting to see history repeat itself (again). Years ago you had some very vocal pimply-faced youths who jeered about how they were illegally distributing copyrighted works (software, music, video, books. Stupid companies! No copyright protection, lame copyright protection ... easy meat !

Result ? Among others the DMCA. Various individuals were sued into bankruptcy by the music industry, just to show people what the risks were (remember single mother Jammie Thomas ? See: . Some were driven to suicide (see ).

What shouty nerds tend to forget is that (like it or not) they are part of a society that can (and does) sets certain limits on their behaviour. Which can be enforced. With or without their consent.

Tor routers can be a force for the good (avoiding censorship, protecting human rights activists, protecting investigative journalists) but they really _can_ be eradicated, given sufficient incentive.

Just outlaw the servers, force ISP's to scan all Internet traffic for TOR servers, log any connections and isolate / report them as soon as they're detected. Send a SWAT team to visit anyone who connects to a TOR server to seize their computers pending investigation. Set penalties sufficiently high to pay for all that and publicly sue a few tens of offenders into bankruptcy.

Should cow 99% of all TOR users, right? The 1% who aren't cowed are probably up to no good anyway.

A bit like China. Not pretty, and people won't like it, but it really can be enforced.

The detection and tracking part is already in place. Just consider the raft of deep-packet inspection routers that has been installed already (see ).

I'm not saying I'd like to see something like that (I wouldn't). All I'm saying is that stupid and venal abusers like this a**hole botnet operator make it that much more likely that something like that will occur. Whether we realise it or not. To the detriment of us all.

Comment Re:Germany has way more problems than Facebook (Score 1) 321

Banning hearsay rants from German facebook has nothing whatsoever to do with "repressing" Free Speech.

You're always allowed to say factual things like: "I saw a girl being assaulted by immigrants from Africa in xxx on yyy" (factual report) or "I spoke with a girl who was assaulted by immigrant from Africa ..." (firsthand report), or "My girlfriend says she spoke with a girl who was assaulted by an immigrant from Africa" (hearsay report). But if you do, it had better be true.

But things like "Immigrant apes from Africa are raping our daughters, spit on our laws and come here to sponge on welfare. How long are we're going to let those bastards continue to do that before we string them up?" would be prohibited.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Comment Re:Germany has way more problems than Facebook (Score 2) 321

Let's not be too dogmatic bout his, shall we?

I think that preventing out-and-out hoaxers from hijacking a platform (like facebook) that many (stupid) people lend unthinking credence to is good thing. It only muddies the waters.

I also think that preventing rabble-rousers and deliberate hate-speech merchants from doing the same can't hurt either.

If people want to claim something as a fact, they should bring proof. If they can't, they should preface their claim with "I believe this is the case: ... " and preferably end it with "... but I can't prove it".

People have the right to their own opinions, but they don't have the right to their own "facts".

Comment Custom handcuffs (Score 2) 229

Just adopt legislation that requires anyone in the possession of an encrypted camera to provide the encryption key to any police officer who asks, on pain of ... say ... 2 years of jail time for each offense.

Like in the UK.

That should teach tech-obsessed journos who is boss.

Any questions ?

Comment Cheaper to shoot the messenger (Score 1) 188

It's a lot cheaper to shoot the messenger than it is to shore up a leaky piece of software.

Besides ... patching the software is never a permanent solution. Anarchist sympathisers will burrow into the system until they've found another vulnerability. And another. And another.

Best to attack the problem at its root: sue anyone who publishes a leak out of existence. That will also deter malfeasants, right?

Comment Re:No mention of the internet architecture of cour (Score 1) 87

Seriously, no manufacturer will spend a dime on security since security doesn't sell very well. Markets won't provide what isn't valued. And security is a niche market, not a mass market.

This guarantees that the upcoming deluge of IoT devices will be insecure unless we do something.

IoT devices will have their OS hardwired in so that it can't be upgraded (cost considerations; and we'll sell you a new gadget if this one becomes compromised). Which means we'll be waist-deep in applications that will be botnet components within a year of manufacture and which will phone home to wherever from day one.

Like it or not, the only way to prevent this is ... legislation and regulation.

And it's a lot cheaper and easier to regulate new devices than to regulate the existing Internet to be 100% safe.

Comment Compulsory barcoding isn't the American Way (Score 3, Insightful) 115

Damn right ! Compulsory tagging of demented old biddies is something they could only think if in Japan.

In the US we'd never do anything like that. We're Christians ! We have Morals !

Instead people will be told that, to better serve them and to keep medical costs down, all medicare recipients will be offered a chance to enroll in a programme that offers them expedited ambulance transport in case of accidents (they're easier to locate), emergency treatment in hospitals (because their medical data can be found more easily) plus waiver of the upcoming 1000$ a month service surcharge ... provided they consent to have an RFID chip implanted with their SSN.

Those who elect not to participate in the programme will not be eligible for expedited ambulance transport, will experience a light delay upon admission until their medical data has been found and their insurance status clarified, and will be asked to pay the service surcharge.

Net participation in the chipping program will therefore be 99%, of which 100% will be voluntary, you see?

That's how you do things !

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