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RSA's Servers Hacked

IchBinEinPenguin Re:Good non hype link, now do that for more storie (172 comments)

In general I've become so skeptical of anything these days due to the echo chamber of the internet bouncing around hyped, panicked stories with no followup.

I keep hearing about that thing, but I don't believe it really exists.

more than 3 years ago

Australia Creates Cyberwarfare Unit

IchBinEinPenguin Digital Rabbit-proof fence? (60 comments)

What a joke.
What else can you expect from the geniuses that proposed the national evil filter...

more than 3 years ago

Number of Facebook Friends Linked To Anxiety

IchBinEinPenguin Re:Scientific Research Run Amok... (144 comments)

I have a job where I can keep a FB window open all day in-between other activities.

...But FB isn't a "tremendous waste of time" for me.

Sounds like it's a tremendous waste of your employers time though (i.e. the time they paid you for)

more than 3 years ago

Why the Arduino Won and Why It's Here To Stay

IchBinEinPenguin Low barrier to entry (224 comments)

You need a USB cable and a PC capable of running Java.

That's it. No JTAG programmer, no EEPROM burner, no ICSP interface.

Within minutes you can control actual real-world things like you used to be able to do with a parallel port (remember those?)

more than 3 years ago

USB Autorun Attacks Against Linux

IchBinEinPenguin Re:Exactly (274 comments)

Did you ever use the original Vista? Ever use Ubuntu or OSX from the same time period?

You had me a "Vista"...

more than 3 years ago

Is Reading Spouse's E-Mail a Crime?

IchBinEinPenguin Holy crap! (496 comments)

... of Ciara Walker, his wife at that time, which showed she was having an affair with her second husband, who once had been arrested for beating her in front of her son.

Is this a court case or an episode of Dynastic Days of Our Sons and Daughters in General City Hospital?

more than 4 years ago

Does Typing Speed Really Matter For Programmers?

IchBinEinPenguin Re:Don't measure WPM (545 comments)

So I can't see your NullPointerException.

Neither can I, now that I'm concentrating on the code rather than on my typing speed.

more than 4 years ago

Does Typing Speed Really Matter For Programmers?

IchBinEinPenguin Re:Don't measure WPM (545 comments)

// start with a salutation
Hi Leto,

// whitespace

// brief introduction
I'm a software engineer.

// show off
I've been writing programs for over 2 decades.
// might need to change that bit later.....

/* ****** DON'T NEED THIS
// enumerate languages
I've written in just about everything from C to REXX to Python and Basic.

// scold
I couldn't help but notice that your program lacked proper comments.

// be obnoxious
I also couldn't help but notice the glaringly obvious flaw in your program.

// be condescending
In case you can't find the problem I'll give you a hint: Null Pointer Exception.

// whitespace

// sign off
with friendly regards,


// PS
// dammit... I'll bet someone will have beaten me to this joke 'cos I didn't type it fast enough!

more than 4 years ago

UK Banks Attempt To Censor Academic Publication

IchBinEinPenguin Re:The article title is inaccurate and inflammator (162 comments)

... an audience that doesn't take the minimal time necessary to examine the source material provided ...

In other words, people don't RTFA.

In other news: water is wet, the sun it bright, the moon is round and sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

more than 4 years ago

TSA Investigates Pilot Who Exposed Security Flaws

IchBinEinPenguin Re:more leaks (394 comments)

Also, fuck dignity, it's in the name of security.

For you, today, "enhanced patdowns" don't cross the line.
Where would you have drawn that line 5 years ago?

Where will you draw it 5 years from now? 15? 50?

more than 4 years ago

10 Dos and Don'ts To Make Sysadmins' Lives Easier

IchBinEinPenguin Re:i am impressed (246 comments)

... that special place in hell automatically inserts bullet ants into the scrotum of anybody placed there.

What happens in the special place in hell reserved for people who perpetuate the stereotype that all IT workers have scrotums?

more than 4 years ago

Placebos Work -- Even Without Deception

IchBinEinPenguin Did they verify this ... (430 comments)

... by double-blind testing with fake placebos?

more than 4 years ago

Will 2011 Be the Year of Mobile Malware?

IchBinEinPenguin Re:It's about 2-factor authentication... (111 comments)

So unless the bad guys have malware on your phone AND on your pc, they can't steal your money.

Unless you're doing your banking from your Internet-enabled smart-phone...

more than 4 years ago

Intel's Sandy Bridge Processor Has a Kill Switch

IchBinEinPenguin How? (399 comments)

Works without an internet connection, even while the device is turned off.

Spooky action at a distance?

more than 4 years ago

What To Do About Mobile Devices That Lie

IchBinEinPenguin Re:Nothing (107 comments)

Indeed. The Chinese measures seem geared mostly towards stopping people (connection resets, dns poisoning, etc), whereas the US ones towards criminalizing people (logs.) Which is not to say that the Chinese would never prosecute you as a criminal, they probably will if it suits them, but it's not their default modus operandi.

Perhaps it's because when some governments go after their citizens they don't bother with niceties like 'evidence', 'logs' or even 'trials'.

more than 4 years ago

What To Do About Mobile Devices That Lie

IchBinEinPenguin Re:TPM (107 comments)

So .... let the free market operate and we'll see what happens. TPMs are cheap. It wouldn't take much pushing.

Once you have TPM the _last_ thing you have is a free market.

more than 4 years ago

What To Do About Mobile Devices That Lie

IchBinEinPenguin Re:What a Phenomenally Stupid Question (107 comments)

And I suppose the complete absence of any mention of WinCE or Windows Mobile in the article is sheerest coincidence.

Windows was excluded because neither of the Windows users have reported any problems. Yet.

P.S. Couldn't agree more.
You reap what you sow.
Keeping your eye firmly planted on next quarter's profit margin (and the resulting bonuses) will eventually bite you in the ass.

more than 4 years ago

Many Hackers Accidentally Send Their Code To Microsoft

IchBinEinPenguin Doesn't this imply ... (220 comments)

... that ALL developers send their code to Microsoft every time it crashes?

more than 4 years ago



PC performance tips

IchBinEinPenguin IchBinEinPenguin writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Slow of Light (589252) writes "The slow of light

People refer to the "speed of light", usually with a slight sense of awe. Well, thanks to a certain physicist1 with a permanent bad-hair-day we know that everything in this universe is relative. The speed of light itself, near infinite that it seems to us, has finally met its match.

Light isn't the only thing that travels at the 'speed of light'. c, as it is abbreviated, applies to all manner of electromagnetic radiation, even to electronic signals traveling in wires. For the record,

c = 299,792,458 m/s

though it is commonly rounded off to 300 million meters per second2.

Early Days

My first computer was a Tandy MC103, running at a leisurely 860kHz and using an old 30cm TV as a display. The keyboard was an integral part of the system, there was no mouse.

Light (and by extension, electronic signals traveling in wires) could span (300,000,000 m/s / 860,000 Hz = 348m) over a third of a kilometer between clock-cycles. The electrons zipping about in my computer could easily pop by the kitchen for a quick snack between operations and no-one would even notice :-)

Dark Ages

Recently I played with a 3GHz PC with dual 24-inch monitors. While PC's have sped up, light has remained as 'slow' as ever.

A strange feeling of deja-vu set in, and I realized that this thing doesn't actually seem to go much faster than my old MC10. You all know this feeling, right? You fire up the brand-new PC, twice as fast as the old one!, only to wait even longer for that elusive login prompt. Even once it's up and running, nothing seems to go much faster!

The Problem

Though Moore's Law keeps pushing and upgrading the PC specs, we are still limited by the speed of light! The same electrons that were ambling around in my MC10 are now being clocked at 3GHz, that's 3 billion times per second! Where before they could travel hundreds of meters between cycles, now they are down to only 10cm!

Also, vital peripherals are now external to the PC. Curly keyboard cables (thankfully abandoned!), external drives (disks are both input AND output devices, so these count twice!), luxuriously long monitor cables, all this adds up!

Tick Tock

It's all about clock cycles, the more you have, the faster you go. Right?


I hit a key, the signal goes up the curly wire (1.05m long when straightened out), down to the external disk (0.8m) and back (0.8m), out to the monitor (1.5m) and finally back to me (1m, hey, with these huge monitors you can sit back a fair way!). That's a total of over 3m, or 30 clock cycles!!

No wonder the PC feels sluggish, it is a full 30 clock cycles behind!

It's even worse if you have a hyper-threading or dual-core system because these delays, unlike normal workload which is evenly spread among the cores, applies to _ALL_ cores equally!

All these extra clock-cycles are great if you're into batch-processing, but when you're trying to use the PC interactively, then constantly being 30 steps behind gets very noticeable!


Sometimes old ideas are the best ideas; Laptops with integrated keyboards, just like my trusty old MC10. Avoid external disks, get as short a monitor cable as you can, and don't believe the 'large monitors are more productive' hype (maybe for some noob magazine reporter who doesn't notice the extra lag, but a true power user will loose more productivity due to latency than they gain thanks to the extra screen-space).

If you have to use a conventional keyboard, try to get one with a short cable or, better yet, a wireless one4 (if it's the infra-red kind, make sure though that the transmission is line-of-sight. IR cannot travel through your table-top, and having the signal bouncing off the back-wall to get to your PC under the desk will _not_ speed things up!).

Do NOT mess with the power cables! Not only is this dangerous, it's useless as the power-cables are not in the data-path. USB cables are a special case, they provide both power and signal; get the shortest once you can.

Weighty matters

Information inside your PC is carried by electrons5. Though individually these are almost weightless, it actually takes vast numbers of them to transfer even a single bit! Even if you only needed a single bit, modern machines collate bits into ever-larger words for 'efficiency'. A single mouse click (1 bit, right?) might get bloated to 8, 16, 32 or even 64 bits! Aren't you glad you spent that extra money on a 64-bit processor?

Desktops-style cases are better than tower cases. The motherboards lie flat, smoothing out speed gradients and allowing higher clock-speeds (why do you think all high-powered rack-mount servers are flat?). If you are forced to use a tower case, experiment with re-orienting it. Different parts of the motherboard carry out different functions, some of which are more speed-sensitive than others.

Though monitors are bidirectional devices these days, data traveling from the monitor is used mainly during boot-up. Unless you reboot a lot make sure the monitor isn't too high above the PC (resting it directly on a desktop-style PC is ideal). Keyboards, on the other hand, are mostly input devices, keep them as high as you comfortably can (unless you post to a lot of gaming forums, in which case you probably use CAPS-LOCK a lot and will benefit from a more responsive CAPS indicator light).

If you plug in a USB stick, choose the socket wisely. If mostly copying TO the USB stick, use a low port (usually one on the PC itself). If mostly copying FROM the USB stick, use a high socket (like one integrated into the monitor). The same applies if you need to use an external disk.

Modems are mostly used for downloading, as are switches and routers; they should be as high as possible (UNLESS you're on a server, in which case site them low!)


Much of the hype on software bloat is just that, hype. No, Bill Gates is not part of an evil conspiracy to sell more hardware. As a famous engineer6 once said, "You cannot change the laws of physics", even if you are the worlds richest man!

Be skeptical of 'improvements' like larger monitors, Home File Servers and 64-bit processors. If you thought a 1m USB cable adds latency, just try a few dozen meters of network cable! Remember, we're worried about latency here, not bandwidth, so getting Gigabit cables (or even fiber) won't help!

Use common sense and a few of the guidelines found here and you'll get the best possible performance out of your PC.


Please send comments, questions and updates to


This document is released under the

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License


4For more information on speeding up wireless see http://j-walk.com/other/wifispray/


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