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Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

FireFury03 Re:Technology not needed in thermostats (103 comments)

I am afraid we are using technology where technology is not needed.

Wireless gizmos are becoming very common since they mean you don't need to dig holes in your walls to run the cables.

I have 2 wireless thermostats - the wireless isn't used to set them remotely, it is used for them to communicate with the boiler. On the whole they work pretty well (and yes, I'm sure the protocol is so trivial that someone could probably sit outside my house and turn the boiler on/off if they cared enough). That said, if I could point my browser at the thermostat instead of having to fiddle with a UI that has a limited display and only a few buttons, that'd be pretty useful.

I have a wireless doorbell too. It has to be said that this doesn't work so well because the range isn't great - it certainly won't reach my office. Again, probably really insecure and someone who cared enough could probably make my doorbell ring remotely.

As we get more and more wireless gizmos like this, having them all use common infrastructure, such as the wifi network, rather than communicating using their own point-to-point links is probably a pretty sensible idea - it cuts interference between devices as well as extending the range (by virtue of the wifi network usually covering the entire house anyway, so being able to relay the traffic, possibly via multiple access points). The problem here is twofold:
1. Moving from proprietary protocols to a standard protocol like wifi suddenly means off-the-shelf hardware and software can be used to attack the devices. The old proprietary devices were really insecure too, but no one cared enough to engineer hardware to attack them - now your phone or laptop comes with the hardware you need.
2. These wifi-enabled devices are more powerful and can therefore do nefarious things that the older devices couldn't do - i.e. attacking an old wireless thermostat allowed you to turn the boiler on and off, attacking a new one lets you send spam, etc.

about a week ago
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Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

FireFury03 Re:Will this internet of things die already? (103 comments)

Hopefully people will exercise their legal rights to correct this kind of thing. For example, goods must be "fit for purpose" and of "reasonable quality". In other words, security must be reasonably effective.

Could be even more interesting if you paid to have it installed.

Unfortunately warranty legislation never seems to apply to software - how often do you hear people getting their money back from Microsoft because Windows is buggy (that would be a design or manufacturing flaw, which is certainly covered for physical goods).

about a week ago
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Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

FireFury03 Re:Will this internet of things die already? (103 comments)

Nobody needs a home thermometer and refrigerator connected to the internet. Gadget makers and tech press have been trying to foist this shit on us for years and nobody wants it. Let it die already.

I'm not sure that's true - this stuff hasn't really hit the mainstream yet, but the same can be said about a lot of technology early on (how long ago was the internet "only for nerds"?)

I can certainly see a lot of uses for this stuff - my home thermostat lets me set different programs for every day, etc. but the UI isn't great and its time consuming to set. The UI deficiencies are mostly down to the fact that it has a limited display and a limited number of buttons - if I could control it from my web browser it'd be much easier to use.

I'm not entirely sure what you'd expect from an internet connected fridge - it could be useful for stuff like dynamic power use to reduce the load on the electricity grid. But a more consumer-focussed idea would be tracking what's actually in the fridge (would require RFID labelled products or similar) - I can't count the number of times I've found myself in the supermarket and thought "I wonder if we've got any milk left?", or "Is there space in the freezer for this?" - being able to easilly check that kind of thing remotely would certainly be useful. At the moment this is all in the "nerds only" stage, but how long until it integrates with your shopping list, automatically tells you what you've run out of and is used by a large chunk of the population?

I guess something that will hold back adoption of these technologies is that they are in devices that don't frequently get replaced - I've had my fridge for 14 years and I'm not planning on replacing it until it dies. But then the same could be said for TVs and a lot of people have recently replaced perfectly good CRTs with LCD smart TVs so at some point the jump in technology gets good enough for people to bite the bullet and upgrade.

about a week ago
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Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

FireFury03 Re:So much power waste (287 comments)

If you look closely at those pictures, in pretty much every rack there are redundant switches with absolutely nothing connected to them, yet they are powered on.

Really? Do you like the blinking lights? I measured my 24 port 3com superstack switch and it was 50 watts. I switched to a 8 port low power gigabit (i have 6 devices these days) and it runs at 8watts.

Calculating the cost savings of the switch, at .07 cents a kwh, 42w = cost per year savings of 25 dollars. Roughly the cost of the gigabit switch i replaced it with!

Yep, managed switches seem to be outrageously power hungry. In my cabinet I've got:
  - Satellite patch panel (wired to the dish)
  - 24 port 8p8c patch panel (wired to sockets in the rest of the house/office)
  - 24 port managed gigabit switch
  - Test machine which is completely underpowered and never turned on (at some point I'll get around to removing it from the cabinet)
  - Sheevaplug
  - USB hard drive for Sheevaplug
  - VDSL modem
  - VoIP/POTS gateway
  - USB DVB-S2 receiver
  - RIPE Atlas probe
  - PoE injectors for 2 wireless APs that are dotted around the house
  - Far too many PSUs for all of the above! (Although I have consolidated all the 12v supplies into a single PSU with multiple connectors. I've still got stuff that needs 9v and 5v supplies though)

The total draw is about 90 watts, probably about 50% of it going to the managed switch! About 25% goes to the hard drive I guess.

If anyone has any recommendations for 24 port managed switches that don't draw silly amounts of power when idle, I'd be interested (bonus points if they have some PoE ports).

The other problem I have is that no devices seem to be able to roam between APs sensibly - if I move from the house to the office my phone and laptop try to hold onto the incredibly weak signal from the house AP even though there's an AP in the office for them to use. I have to toggle the wifi off and on again to get them to reassociate. (And vice-versa when I move back into the house).

about two weeks ago
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European Space Agency Picks Site For First Comet Landing In November

FireFury03 Re:A good slice of luck. (35 comments)

Esa says it will be a one-shot opportunity. Events will be taking place so far away that real-time radio control will be impossible.

What amazes me is that the lander has no RCS - it's launched at the comet, and if it bounces off or something there is no second go. I kinda expected the lander to have some RCS so it could automatically correct for unexpected troubles.

about two weeks ago
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WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

FireFury03 Re:Helium? (296 comments)

And who the hell plans on running a data center hard drive indefinitely?

ISTR that the big datacentres, such as Google, run drives until they fail - the systems are redundent enough to cope with a failure with no problems and they have so many drives that it's more cost effective to have a resilliant system and just run the drives into the ground than it is to preemptively retire them (and still have to cope with unexpected premature failures).

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

FireFury03 Re:We really need (533 comments)

It's actually FTTC, and the last feet done via coaxial cable.

Yeah, thought as much - I was surprised to see someone saying that Virgin were doing FTTP. They certainly do FTTP for commercial installs, but I've never heard of it for residential.

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

FireFury03 Re:Sorry guys, but you are full of shit (533 comments)

The proportion of people who regularly watch hour long HD streaming video channels is probably pretty low.

Maybe that's because their ISP is providing inadequate service so they know better than to attempt it.

Or maybe its because they just aren't interested and therefore don't want to pay for a faster connection...

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

FireFury03 Re:Sorry guys, but you are full of shit (533 comments)

TFS mentions high quality video. You're not streaming high quality video with 10 or even 20Mbps.

Netflix recommends 5Mbps for HD streaming, so you are wrong.

HD on the internet is definitely not the same as HD broadcast TV. When it was first launched, the BBC HD DVB-S channel was doing H.264 at a little over 20Mbps. I think they've reduced that a bit on the HD channels now but certainly nowhere close to 5Mbps. A quick look at a 35 minute programme recorded on my MythTV system from BBC One HD shows 2.6GB, which is a little over 10Mbps - the BBC transponders use statistical multiplexing though, so if you're watching something with more fast action then you can probably expect a higher bit rate than that though. I think BSkyB do around 8Mbps for their HD transponders (and people complain about the quality of BSkyB's HD channels).

The fact that Netflix skimp on the bandwidth a bit shouldn't really be news anyway...

That said, 4Mbps *is* enough for a lot of people - a very high proportion of people use their internet connection for a bit of web surfing and email. The proportion of people who regularly watch hour long HD streaming video channels is probably pretty low. Remember that Slashdot users aren't exactly the "typical" home internet user. (I say this having moved from a 6Mbps ADSL connection to a 40Mbps VDSL connection - for the vast majority of uses the 6Mbps connection was absolutely fine and the only real reason I upgraded was because switching ISP actually worked out cheaper than sticking with the old 6Mbps connection)

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

FireFury03 Re:We really need (533 comments)

This is Virgin Broadband using fiberoptic to the home.

Umm, when did Virgin start doing residential FTTP?

about three weeks ago
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Two Explorers Descend Into An Active Volcano, and Live to Tell About It

FireFury03 Re:Grandparents... (66 comments)

Actually, the link does not apply since the unfortunate victim in that case jumped off an 80ft cliff into a quarry. I am not aware of any account where the original challenge, a bucket of cold water to the head, actually caused the participant to expire and go to meet his maker.

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/...

The link I posted does mention some idiot woman who decided to chuck a bucket of water over herself while sitting on a horse. The expected thing happened - the horse bolted and the woman was killed.

about three weeks ago
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Two Explorers Descend Into An Active Volcano, and Live to Tell About It

FireFury03 Re:Grandparents... (66 comments)

Well, its still less stupid than throwing a bucket of ice water over your head and then posting it on Facebook.

No, not really. Which one is more likely to get you killed?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new...

about three weeks ago
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Taking the Ice Bucket Challenge With Liquid Nitrogen

FireFury03 Re:People who did High School Chemistry know this. (182 comments)

Exactly what I came here to post. We had the demonstration of what happens when you immerse something in liquid nitrogen vs what happens when you pour it over the top. Even if you didn't get to play with liquid nitrogen in school, there are lots of videos of this.

Although I was under the impression that the Leidenfrost effect only worked well on bare skin, so I'm surprised he didn't get frost burns to his scalp and clothed parts.

about a month ago
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Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

FireFury03 Re:Intentionally bad design, still appalling (131 comments)

Too many companies continue to take their product, fiddle / fuck with it for the sake of change (keeping UI designers in a job I suspect) and then antagonise their users. Google maps is a prime example, the new google maps is AWFUL compared to the existing one, lacking several key features. Please, stop fiddling and changing things.

In this case, I believe that it was a deliberate change forced on their users because it will directly benefit Facebook.

It's one of the (great many) reasons why using web apps for business frequently sounds nuts to me.

How often over the years have we heard stuff like "we can't switch from Office to OpenOffice because of the costs involved in retraining everyone to use a different UI"? Well with a "cloud app" you have *exactly* this problem, coupled with the fact that you usually get no notice that it's going to happen - you just log in one day and everything's moved around.

about a month ago
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Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

FireFury03 Re:Stupid design, appalling (131 comments)

Flashblock, surely?

Makes me think: is auto-playing HTML5 video a possibility? If so, can this easily be disabled in browsers' settings?

Flashblock will block HTML5 videos too.

about a month ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

FireFury03 Re:math err? Re:Beyond what humans can do (708 comments)

Oh yeah, I'll also point out that the original poster's numbers stuck out like a sore thumb before I even looked up the figures: Petrol is lighter than water, so its immediately obvious that 4.75 tons is going to be over 4750 litres (at current forecourt prices, about £6000) and I know I don't buy anywhere close to that amount of petrol each year. Doncha just love the metric system for making such things so obvious. :)

about a month ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

FireFury03 Re:math err? Re:Beyond what humans can do (708 comments)

The numerator above seems off: what is 6445 ?

4.75 tons of petrol is 6445 litres. Since petrol is 85% carbon, we can divide the 6445 litres by 0.85 and we get 7582 litres of petrol containing 4.75 tons of carbon.

For the weight of a big tub of petroleum containing 4.75t carbon, I think you'd have:
4.75 tons of carbon / .85 = 5.938 tons of petroleum.

Your answer is wrong: 4750 Kg of carbon / 0.85 = 5588 Kg of petrol. It looks like you divided by 0.80 instead of 0.85?

5588 Kg of petrol / 0.737 = 7582 litres of petrol.

about a month ago
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Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

FireFury03 Re:Sigh (341 comments)

Secondly why would anybody pay for broadband internet, and only use it like ISDN or DSL?

Ok, I have a home connection that does 40Mbps down and 20Mbps up. It is capped to 100GB/month during the day (no cap at night, and this is when I run off-site backups and such). I never come close to exceeding that cap - the speed is useful for downloading the odd film, watching streaming HDTV, uploading photos, etc. for short periods. If I need to download a new Linux distro or something, I can do it in 10 minutes - doing this stuff over ISDN would be either very painful (requiring planning a download a long time in advance of actually needing it) or just plain impossible impossible. ADSL, again, would be rather a pain for the occasional large download.

On the other hand, if I were running bittorrent 24/7 I would be able to blow through 15TB of bandwidth in a month, were it not for the cap. But I'm not interested in doing this, so I don't understand why those people who are interested in shifting 2-3 orders of magnitude more data than me should expect me to pay more in order to subsidise the build-out cost of the ISP upgrading their network to support them.

The bittorrent crowd would characterise my 100GB monthly cap as terrible because, at full speed, I could blow through it in 5 hours. The thing that they completely fail to understand is that I never have any interest in blowing through it - I like a fast connection because it lets me do things quickly, not because I can download lots.

about a month ago
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

FireFury03 Re:Beyond what humans can do (708 comments)

single average-sized car puts out 4.75 metric TONS of carbon every year

That sounds an unreasonably high figure.

Petrol weighs about 737g / l, so 4750Kg of petrol is 6445 litres.
Wikipedia says the carbon content of petrol is up to about 85%: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...
So 6445/0.85 = 7582 litres of petrol contain 4.75t of carbon.
Wikipedia suggests average fuel economy is somewhere around 5l / 100Km: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...
7582*100/5 = 151640Km - I'm pretty sure that the average car doesn't travel 152Mm/year!

Lets assume you're talking about tons of CO2 rather than tons of carbon.
Apparently we multiply litres of petrol by 2.331 to get Kg of CO2 emitted: http://www.carbontrust.com/res...
So 4750/2.331 = 2038 litres. At 5l / 100Km, this gives us 2038*100/5 = 40760Km - ok, a vaguely more reasonable figure.

Apparently the average company car does around 30,000Km/year and the average private car does about 12,000Km: http://www.racfoundation.org/m...

So the average is going to be well under 41Mm and around an order of magnitude less than the 152Mm you claimed!

I'm certainly not saying that climate change is nothing to worry about - I think it's a big problem and whether or not you think it's man made, dumping vast amounts of crap into the atmosphere can't possibly be a bright idea. But I really wish people wouldn't just invent bogus "facts" to back up their arguments - the arguments should stand up for themselves, if you need bogus data to prop them up then you've got something really badly wrong somewhere.

about a month ago
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Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

FireFury03 Re:Sigh (341 comments)

They do seem to be rather twisting words to appear not to be imposing limits.

However, my question is: why are data caps such a bad thing? Most slashdotters seem to think that ISPs can provide truly unlimited bandwidth for zero cost, and given that most slashdotters are pretty technical I don't see how they can consider this to be a rational view. If large numbers of customers try to use large amounts of bandwidth at the same time, the only way an ISP can maintain a reasonable service is by upgrading their infrastructure. Sure, there's a lot of dark fibre already laid, but the hardware to put it into use is not free, nor is the engineer time required to install and maintain that hardware, nor is the power that the hardware draws.

So, whilst I acknowledge that a lot of slashdotters seem to think it is their god given right to max out their internet connection torrenting "moviez" 24/7, I have to question why the majority of internet users (who don't do this) should be expected to subsidise the minority who do? Why is it not better, for everyone except that minority, to cap connections somewhere above what the majority of people use, and then charge people extra if they want to download a disproportionately larger amount?

FWIW, here in the UK most of the ISPs provide a wide selection of packages with different (well publicised) caps and associated prices - those people who don't use their internet connection much get a cheap package, those who have a mid-range requirement get a mid-range package, and those who want to max out their connection the whole time either pay for an expensive package or go to one of the ISPs that offer "unlimited" connections (with the expected dire performance you'd expect from an ISP who is exclusively attracting the high bandwidth users). I really don't understand the American attitude, which on one hand is "I don't want to subsidise anyone else" (for healthcare, etc.) but at the same time "I expect to be subsidised by everyone else" (for high bandwidth internet use).

What I do object to, is ISPs using the term "unlimited" to describe packages which are clearly limited. And the terrible thing is that the regulator here has said that this practice is ok. Luckily only the crap, large ISPs seem to participate in that kind of misleading marketing, with the smaller, better performing ISPs preferring to clearly label what you're getting for your money.

about a month ago

Submissions

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New rules for government departments' compliance with open standards

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  about 2 years ago

FireFury03 writes "Effective immediately, all British government departments are to comply with a set of Open Standards Principles (OSPs) when procuring for IT contracts. This follows a public consultation in which around 70% of respondents said they believed it would improve innovation, choice and value for money. Government sources say that although some suppliers have expressed reluctance to move towards OSPs, very few were able to articulate why they wouldn’t be beneficial.

Hopefully this will lead to fewer monolithic multi-million pound IT contracts going to the same old big businesses time after time, and more opportunity for small businesses to participate. Carving up a project and handing it to small businesses is likely very beneficial — less risk since the risk is spread amongst many suppliers, cheaper since there is more competition so less chance to overcharge like the big contractors currently do, and supporting small local businesses also helps the economy."

Link to Original Source
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Illegal downloaders 'face UK ban'

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The BBC is reporting that the UK government may be planning to force ISPs to ban customers who are using their internet connections to infringe copyright. Apparently about 10% of the UK population regularly infringe copyright over the internet and there is no comment on how the ISPs are expected to detect infringement."
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Active glacier found on Mars

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft has spotted an icy feature which appears to be a young active glacier. Dr Gerhard Neukum (what a cool name :), chief scientist on the spacecraft's High Resolution Stereo Camera said "We have not yet been able to see the spectral signature of water. But we will fly over it in the coming months and take measurements. On the glacial ridges we can see white tips, which can only be freshly exposed ice". Estimates place the glacier at 10,000 — 100,000 years old."
Link to Original Source
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Another warning over IPv4 address exhaustion

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The BBC is running a story on the IPv4 address exhaustion problem. The chairman of ICANN is warning that IPv4 addresses will probably run out in 2-3 years and we really need to roll out IPv6 now. The article notes that he is also Google's chief internet evangelist (Google still don't publish an IPv6 address for their search engine).

We keep getting these warnings, but very few ISPs and domestic router manufacturers seem to act (is it even possible to get a domestic ADSL router that does IPv6 without putting custom firmare on it yet?) Will we see a large scale roll-out of IPv6 soon, or will the industry wait until the sky falls in before acting?"

Link to Original Source
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Google Sky launches

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The BBC is reporting that Google have launched the Google Sky add-on for Google Earth. It will allow astronomers a chance to glide through images of more than one million stars and 200 million galaxies.

"Click a button and the world flips round and you see the sky from that particular location," explained Mr Parsons. "[The view] would be the constellations that you would see oriented in the sky on that particular day at that particular time." Users can overlay the night sky with other information such as galaxies, constellations and detailed images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Although so far I've been unable to find any information published by Google."

Link to Original Source
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UK petition for government IT projects to be open

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "There is a Petition on the UK government's website calling for publicly funded IT projects to be implemented as Free software. From the petition: "This would allow for more of the public to benefit from the development of the software since the code would be available for anyone to use and improve. Furthermore, compatibility with other Free licences (such as the GPL) would promote rapid development and reduced costs through the reuse of existing code.""
Link to Original Source
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OSC threatten BBC over Microsoft tie-in

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "After the BBC Trust approved the BBC's development of a Windows-only video-on-demand service in April, the Open Source Consortium is threatening the BBC with a complaint to the European Commission, since it gives Microsoft an unfair advantage and is not in the public interest. They have also complained to the regulator (Ofcom) and the BBC Trust comparing the situation to the BBC only making programmes that can only be watched on one particular brand of television.

As a licence fee payer, I feel that I should have the right to withhold a portion of my licence fee since the BBC obviously feels it appropriate to artificially restrict the content and therefore prevent a proportion of licence fee payers from legitimately accessing it. It is also interesting to note from the article that the BBC seems to consider supporting only Windows and Mac to be "platform agnostic", with no mention of other operating systems."

Link to Original Source
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "There is a petition on the British government's website calling for software projects funded by the tax payer to be released under a Free licence so that the tax payer can re-use the code they paid for and also examine the progress of the project. All to often these projects seem to over run and cost many times the original budget. This blog on the subject suggests that this is a common practice in the US — if corporate America can do it, why not everyone else?"
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "An unprecidented 19 countries have now responded during the contradictions phase of the ISO/IEC standardisation of Microsoft's OpenXML document format. At this time the responses haven't been made public and ECMA have the opportunity to propose resolutions, before the end of the month, to the problems cited. The question has to be raised — what will Microsoft do if the specification is rejected? Can they pressure the relevent people or will they have to withdraw the specification and work up a new, more sane one? In any case, it's good to see that there are some sane people who aren't completely under Microsoft's thumb involved in the standardisation process."
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The British Standards Institute has issued a contradiction to Microsoft's OpenXML document format, blocking it's fast-track ISO standardisation for 90 days. The article states that "Proponents of the rival Open Document Format" are opposed to the format as there is "no point in having two document standards." This seems to miss the true problems with the (incomplete) OpenXML specification and the British Standards Institute have not yet stated the reasons for their objection."
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "linux.com has an article about how eBay are discriminating against Linux users after revising their Sell Your Item web tools.
"The tool is the sellers' auction setup wizard officially named Sell Your Item. eBay rolled out Sell Your Item 3.0 at the end of the summer, adding some more AJAX-ified flair and polish. It was October before I dusted off a relic in need of selling and tried the new form for myself, and found that it didn't work in Linux."
The article goes on to say that kludging your browser's User-Agent string to pretend to be Windows works around the problem, although I haven't got it to work (it serves up a different version of the page but it's still broken). Whilest you can still use the old system to list new items, there doesn't seem to be any solution for those of us who listed items with the new tool and now want to go back to revise the listing without any access to Windows machines."

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