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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

DeSigna Re:So it's like Google Wallet? (187 comments)

And Australia's had it for years too. When I ordered it, I had to make sure my phone was the international version with NFC support, because the US model doesn't have it.

about 2 months ago

Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

DeSigna Re:Ewww... (242 comments)

My Australian education would recall that water structure is constantly changing, and that no "memory" lasts more than a few nanoseconds. No structure has been observed in any form for a longer period than this, or any kind of cyclical/regenerative states based on non-reacting impurities or solutes in the water.

Of course, this is all in relation to room- or body-temperature water, which is quite energetic and liquid. Environmental effects are a bit different. Closer to freezing everything slows down and the molecules start to line up in preparation of forming ice crystals. Usually, I'd hope this doesn't happen in a purification plant in-pipe or a human body. Either scenario is unpleasant.

about 3 months ago

Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

DeSigna Re:Well, sort of. (109 comments)

But I digress. The point is this: AC power is a waveform, oscillating at 60 Hz. It cannot vary much at all...because within the same grid, everything is interconnected. Every generator is in sync, or has a syncrophasor to re-sync the power coming from it before it hits the grid. Otherwise, you get some power from A and some from B, with waveforms that are out of sync...and the frequency changes in both rate and amplitude, and shit blows up.

You may wish to engage in a quick review of:

And numerous other examples of various subcarriers being successfully overlaid on the 50/60Hz power waveform. When used for data transmission, BPL technologies (while commonly deployed in short-range scenarios due to EMI problems), can deliver hundreds of megabits, up to multiple gigabits of bandwidth over tens of KMs - this was deployed and trialled for wide-coverage broadband delivery in Australia. These capabilities would indicate we already have consumer technology which can work through the noise to transmit and receive such a high-precision signal on a shared medium, and which would not create the chaos described.

I'm not disagreeing with this being highly unlikely as a useful tool for tracking without a lot of infrastructure, but the power networks are in no way clean or perfectly in sync. Phases are locked (or the generators will get yanked into line, potentially disastrously), but beyond mechanical low-frequency synchronisation at the production end, there's a lot of noise and variation. I've personally seen several scenarios, mostly large industrial estates, which vary very significantly in voltage and frequency (both over 20%) depending on time of day and resultant grid load. IT gear doesn't agree with this and requires heavy duty power conditioning.

about 4 months ago

Wolfenstein: The New Order Launches

DeSigna Re:I must be getting old... (167 comments)

And I've been getting increasingly nostalgic over WW1&2 shooters (Codename Eagle, BF1942, ET, the original CoD), over the current crop of modern warfare clones. This game might be right up my alley.

Don't have too much time to game these days, but if TF2 or PlanetSide 2 isn't hitting the spot, I might give the new Wolfenstein a try.

about 5 months ago

OpenStack: the Open Source Cloud That Vendors Love and Users Are Ignoring

DeSigna Re:What is the use case? (99 comments)

And you get the usual proprietary issues from both.

I'm not entirely sure what you're angling at VMware with that, but for AWS it makes more sense.

The promise of OpenStack is that you develop in house, then push it out to whatever commodity provider(s) meet your needs at the time [...snip...] [compatible] at the machine level instead of the app level.

I was under the impression that OpenStack is a management and deployment framework - it will work on top of whatever supported hypervisors are in use (KVM, Xen, VMware, etc). One would assume you won't be exposed to the majority of OpenStack's APIs and direct management systems if you're using a third-party cloud provider.

Unless you're planning your own cloud system or are looking at a deployment on the scale where you would be closely looking at running up some of your own hardware with an IaaS partner for rapid scaling, I don't see any direct benefits to users. Especially for SMEs and non-IT-centric businesses, which are the primary targets for the "outsource everything to the cloud, it's worry free!" propaganda.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Management Interface On an IT Appliance?

DeSigna Re:And the answer is... (114 comments)

I'd have to agree. VMware VI Client (the .NET one) is very well designed and thought out, but I'd add the HP 3PAR Management Console into the list of well-done management tools.

It's been a while since I used NetApp though. NetApp and 3PAR's management toolkits crap all over HP MSA/EVA or the various IBM SAN consoles for usability.

about 7 months ago

Government Accuses Sprint of Overcharging For Wiretapping Expenses

DeSigna Re:Refund on overhearing my pizza order (114 comments)

The same is true of comms here in Australia, where in order to obtain a carriers license, equipment must have certain features available for law enforcement purposes according to a set spec defined by the ACMA. There are also various data retention policies.

However, when the government makes drastic and expensive changes to infrastructure requirements for their own desires, there's an expectation that they foot the bill for changes to existing gear. After all, they ARE the customers for these features. Funding it out of government/law enforcement budgets accurately reflects the costs of the enforcement.

Retrofitting configuration on to existing infrastructure can be very expensive compared to rolling out new kit, requiring changes from the management systems all the way to the network gear itself, testing/QA and so on. You're not just fiddling with ACLs or enabling netflows.

about 8 months ago

Bugatti 100P Rebuilt: The Plane That Could've Turned the Battle of Britain

DeSigna Re:There was a mockup in the late 60s. (353 comments)

But even with that, they were reportedly pretty close to breaking the RAF, when they decided to change tactics and let them rebuild near the end of 1940.

about 8 months ago

Apple's Messages Offers Free Texting With a Side of iPhone Lock-In

DeSigna Re:WTF (179 comments)

Well lets see. If they try and message you after you've gotten your new droid/winphone/etc, they'll eventually get an error, if the previous conversation hasn't expired (expiry seems to take somewhere between an hour and a day, probably depending on network conditions). If it's expired and you're no longer on iMessage, or if they've had an error and try to send another message, it will go via SMS. Nothing default about it. Except in the case of an unexpired conversation, it's transparent.

If I want to remove a phone permanently from my iMessage account, I go into my iMessage settings, select the number and remove it. It's even easier if you own the device and it's part of your support profile, you can just do it through the Apple website. I own an iPad but my iPhone is employer-issue.

This iMessage stuff has been part of the iOS environment for literally years. This article is hyperventilating over nothing and is worthy only of a weary eye-roll.

about 8 months ago

Inside Boeing's New Self-Destructing Smartphone

DeSigna Re:But the really important question is... (162 comments)

Probably. But if you try installing a custom firmware, it will literally explode.

I can see a lot of carriers warming to this idea.

about 8 months ago

Lawrence Lessig Wins Fair Use Case

DeSigna Re:Is the settlement open for all ? (89 comments)

Australian labels are generally allied under the ARIA organisation, which has cordial relations with the RIAA. They're closely aligned in intent.

The other interesting thing is, Australian copyright law is much stricter about "fair dealing" (our version of the US' "Fair Use" clause), with exemptions only for very specific use cases. For instance, transcoding a CD to MP3 is not legal in AU. Nor would be using a jingle in a powerpoint for a highschool project, unless the jingle itself was the object of study. ARIA has said they will not sue for personal use such as this, which was taken as justification for not building in additional consumer protections and fair deal exclusions during the most recent revision of AU copyright law.

It's fortunate that this issue occurred and the case was tried in US jurisdiction.

about 8 months ago

Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

DeSigna Re:Think about it (597 comments)

Take for example the Australian model HECS scheme. Effectively, it's a government loan which is paid for like a tax.

Everything is paid for as it would be if you paid up front, by the government. When you leave university and begin to earn income, your annual tax bill is increased by a minimum amount (which you can increase if you want, or perform direct payments into HECS) which pays down the debt until it is gone. If you stop making income, you stop paying off the debt.

I can't recall the specifics, but I believe the latest changes peg the debt value to CPI, so it grows at the government-determined rate of inflation, well below market interest rates.

Overall, people pay for what they use, they can be capped if they're trying to become a professional student and debt load isn't as crippling as it sounds under the US system.

about 8 months ago

Ubuntu To Switch To systemd

DeSigna Re:Embedded uses something different anyway (279 comments)

Systemd brings standardized, concurrent, event-driven startup, so it takes less time to start up, both CPU time and wall clock time. For example, systemd's declarative unit files have much less boilerplate and take less effort to parse than SysV-style init scripts.


Embedded systems using lightweight shells already take only a handful of seconds to boot up with their handrolled initscripts. And even more so than most desktops and servers, that embedded unit is probably going to be turned on for years at a time without reboots.

I've nothing against systemd itself, beside not being very familiar with its internals and being slightly annoyed at having to remember to type "systemctl" instead of "service", but it's silly to position its most-touted benefit as being "quicker boot times". A lot of the secondary benefits, well, we've already got things like OpenRC, rsyslogd and grep.

I may also be a little miffed at having ported a ton of old style init support glue (for a bunch of RH Kickstart configs) to the comparatively poorly documented Upstart, and now I have to change them again for 7's systemd :|.

about 8 months ago

Godot Game Engine Released Under MIT License

DeSigna Re:Is this like CrystalSpace? (73 comments)

None of those are nearly as complex or featured as Godot.

After having a look over the doco for Godot, I'd say that CrystalSpace isn't as far behind as you'd think (especially if you include CEL). However, Godot seems to have more nice features if you're actually developing a game (nice UI, publishing integration).

CS suffers from being more of a programmer's playground than a practical game engine and having quite a steep learning curve, but I've been toying with it for more than a decade.

Also, they were designed for hardware architectures not relevant any more today.

This hits closer to the mark - CS was started a long time ago, but it's ended up being well designed and modular. However, it's difficult to pick up new talent to implement new stuff with such a large existing codebase, leading to quite a bit of development inertia in certain areas.

Still, it works with modern OpenGL and console ports have been made.

I'm more interested in how Godot stacks up against a framework like Marmalade.

about 8 months ago

Windows 8.1 Passes Windows Vista In Market Share

DeSigna Re:Well.... (249 comments)

Well, I can't speak for the GP, but I don't keep any shortcuts on my desktop and pinned items are a bare minimum of common-use apps (Outlook, Firefox, PowerShell, etc). Having icons sprayed everywhere just feels extremely messy.

Admittedly, since getting a Mac at home, I have gotten into the habit of just hitting the windows key and searching for what I want (similar to Cmd-Space for Spotlight), which works better in Win8, but I still find the start screen incredibly annoying and inconsistent compared to the simplicity of a Start Menu that I've had for a decade.

Before that I had a Linux desktop and work machines running WindowMaker, which features a floating start menu :). My disdain for desktop icons and excessive pinning dates from that era.

about 9 months ago

An Iowa ISP's Metered Pricing: What Will the Market Bear?

DeSigna Re: It doesn't cost any more to serve more data (479 comments)

Not sure what you mean by "trunk bandwidth", it could be either backhaul or transit.

Backhaul (from customer to ISP POP) needs to match closely or exceed end customer bandwidth. Most last mile wholesale providers will offer a 1:1 or low contention SLA, although some "manage" the bandwidth (they oversubscribe until someone complains). However, if an ISP can't get this, or they build it themselves, they need to make sure your backhaul interconnects are overbuilt enough to deal with expected growth in line with however long it would take to build additional capacity. This is the primary cost of end user connectivity. The local loop price is usually bundled in with backhaul for costing.

Transit is cheaper and much easier to manage, these are your interconnects to other networks. It needs to be overbuilt as well to exceed peak usage by enough margin to allow continual upgrades, but aggregate usage across an ISP is generally much lower than the sum of its customers. Transit physical interconnects are usually delivered directly into an ISP's POP (a location commonly shared with other network users and ISPs, like a regional datacentre) and benefit from economy of scale.

Discussing the cost of pure transit isn't too useful. Heavy users smash both backhaul and transit if they go nuts, and this usage can be much harder to predict and manage than 1000+ users calmly watching youtube or emailing kids for 5GB/mo. It is much easier at large scale, but for a small, non-profit rural co-op I imagine the handful of big users they have could get very expensive.

In the pricing model, there needs to be an element of discouragement (suddenly heavy users with deep pockets can still degrade network quality for everyone else) as well as recouping the cost of required upgrades and improvements to support the traffic. It is ridiculous for a non-profit to massively overcharge on the scale you're suggesting for no reason.

I'm not sure what Net Neutrality from the summary has to do with any of this either - this is usage-based billing over a flat pipe, not charging/throttling based on traffic type or destination. I may be a bit biased as I'm from somewhere where quota plans are the norm.

about 9 months ago

Senior Managers Are the Worst Information Security Offenders

DeSigna Re:Maybe (181 comments)

Getting a bit OT here, but I have not worked at a single company where the CEO/Managing Director/whatever did not work at least 2x the number of hours of practically everyone else.

For my current boss, stock market dabbling is leisure. Wining and dining whiners and strategic customers can be fun but it means he doesn't get spend time with the wife or golfing or just chilling in front of the TV. He's in at 5am checking projections and talking with vendors/big customers, regularily leaves at 4pm to go to business and networking seminars until late at night, or is just in the office until 6-7pm.

He's in his sixties, this is an established business that's been around for decades. Would you have the energy to build something like that from the ground up? I don't. He did. If he wants to relax a bit and drop the average back to a low 70-odd hours a week, good for him.

about 9 months ago

Kernel DBus Now Boots With Systemd On Fedora

DeSigna Re:So this is the thing killing portability (341 comments)


D-Bus is still portable across multiple free Unices and even Windows. The standalone daemon isn't going away anytime soon, and I can't see the multitude of projects depending on it giving up cross-platform compatibility.

In-kernel IPC reduces context switching and other related overheads. I'm not sure exactly how much of a performance gain this gives D-Bus clients and the system as a whole but if someone wants to spend their Christmas playing around and seeing if something is better then great! And that's part of the benefit of OSS.

about 10 months ago

Who's Selling Credit Cards From Target?

DeSigna Re:Purview of NSA? (68 comments)

I thought this was already the case.

At least here (AU), it's been practically impossible to get a MasterCard or Visa-backed card without a smartchip for half a decade, and in 2014 signatures will no longer be accepted to validate identity on credit purchases. There's been ads running for about a year requesting that people create a PIN for each of their cards. (AFR rundown)

Bank-issued cards (not store cards) always come with NFC as well now (doesn't seem to be any way to request otherwise). The last non-NFC card I had just expired and was replaced with a Visa PayWave. NFC & RFID is also very popular for specialist stuff : cabcharge cards, fuel cards, public transport.

about 10 months ago


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