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Microsoft's Hottest New Profit Center: Android

billsf Purchased IP? (276 comments)

How can any company expect to profit from 'purchased patents'. I don't think it'd fly in the more civilised world. If this is the case: NO Mercy. Even if Google won with pi*10^9 dollars, what good would it really be in the end? Let the innovators and not the trolls make out technology.


more than 2 years ago

Ars Technica Inveighs Against Ad Blocking

billsf Targeted ads suck (1051 comments)

Ads that originate from the site, I display, the rest >/dev/null. You can proxy where the ad is displayed 'internally', the site gets paid by the trash provider and I never have to see it. 'Flash' ads are by far the worst and no site I use places them directly on their own site. (A 30s flash commercial may take 10s to load >/dev/null) On the brighter side, the conduits for targeted ads can be sometimes used as proxies to beat the "Not available in your country" crap.

more than 4 years ago

Coping With 1 Million SSH Authentication Failures?

billsf Re:fail2ban (497 comments)

Try sshguard if you must use port 22 for ssh.

more than 4 years ago

The Most Painful Toy Hack

billsf This implementation is sick (8 comments)

Brain waves are VERY low voltage. It takes about 50V to feel a shock. It looks like it feeds-back on itself! Suggestion: Replace the shocker with a buzzer/vibrator.

more than 4 years ago

Sony Patents Game Demos With Feature Erosion

billsf Re:What's the problem? Its only a patent pending. (200 comments)

Its only a patent application that has been very well written. There is nothing novel about it and it probably will be rejected. Many products like MS Windows have done this for some time. Its a form of "nag-ware" that has been applied in areas outside of games too. It is interesting to note it is actually a game in itself. Copyright is a more correct place for this and the USPTO has stated they'll crack down on applications of this sort.

Prior art is everywhere and this is just a matter of how much one can spend on lawyers. I should know. I'm involved in another patent which is probably valid. If its been published in print, that is prior art. Describing it on BBC at the start is not. This is how patent courts work. The test is to see if something previously written in software is 'prior art'. True, the 'one-click shopping' patent is pure troll. (It came from KDE, not my company at the time, DigiCash.) It is really a patent on scripts and what a script does at the most basic (high)level.

If software patents continue, those lands that accept them will lose out. You can't develop anything when you have to do a patent search and then patent it if its new. The end result would be fighting your patent and not doing anything useful.

True inventions apply science. ("Computer science" is a tool for science, not a science itself.) While software is truly engineering, it has no place with inventions: A new material, a novel application of a discovery (almost all inventions) and a process that leads to a novel substance, device or an improvement are inventions. The way aluminium is made today is invention. The structure of a computer and its parts is an invention and covers anything that can be done with it. The later is mathematical and expressly excluded. Modulation methods and codecs are a means to an end and while mathematical, qualify for short term protection. Crypto is probably just where it doesn't qualify. These are where 'the lines are drawn' in a rational legal environment.


more than 4 years ago

Mozilla To Protect Adobe Flash Users

billsf Re:Hmm -- Mod up parent (132 comments)

Don't know who this guy is, but this is what developers are like. Maybe if they had a key sequence to do it, it would be easier for us. Then again I don't ever expect Mozilla to beat FreeBSD on an exploit.

more than 4 years ago

Mozilla To Protect Adobe Flash Users

billsf Getting Flash to work was a pain (132 comments)

But FreeBSD will protect you. I doubt Mozilla will ever catch me with a vulnerable version unless you say all Flash is vulnerable -- a point I won't argue. At least I have a 'kill script' to kill an annoying flash page.
While preserving the text I really want. For most viewing (video) I use VLC, clive and a script to glue them together. (written is sh -- hint tested with bash too) See the benefits of open source software?


Sorry Microsoft -- you sold the only good thing you had -- Office. Lets hope the designers will revolt and force the source open. They are, after all the only known RealHackers(tm) in Microsoft!

more than 4 years ago

Dell Says Re-Imaging HDs a Burden If Word Banned

billsf Microsoft this time: Software patents now right? (376 comments)

Are software patents suddenly OK when MS gets stuck? I wouldn't use their 'copy-ware' myself but still aren't /. readers against this abuse
of the patent system? There is a bigger story, but the press just haven't seen it yet. I think some of us know where the prior art is anyway for this idea that isn't patentable. Will Apple bring back 'look and feel' suits? Very bad idea, even if its just Microsoft.

more than 4 years ago

Will Mainstream Media Embrace Adblockers?

billsf Re:Why does ad-block have to be on a browser (417 comments)

It doesn't as others have pointed out. AdBlock+ just happens to have been advertised well. (How ironic!) Ad blockers usually are on a proxy (junkbuster, privoxy, etc.) which can be integrated into caching proxy which is often integrated into a router. This type of set-up works best but keep in mind some people actually want to see the ads, at least some of them. Like a spam blocker, the user must have the final say. Its a good idea to play the ads into '/dev/null'. If everyone did that, this whole "controversy" is moot.

This whole topic is a bit troll, IMO. Beating ad blockers is a matter of running ads locally, on the site itself. "Targeted advertising" is a bad idea in all respects. 'Malware' often comes from going to rogue sites. Using an easily hacked targeting service is risking much ill-will from your users.

At the user end, its probably best to keep this material away from your system. While 99% of all problems of this sort stem from using a certain operating environment, being 100% safe is a false idea. Running a browser in a virtual
environment is 'virtually' 100% safe. That isn't exactly 'home technology' yet, but a number of /. readers probably use it.

Most users should block ads. True, its nice to know what pressures the site is under and many people let the ads through only for that reason. Ads from the site itself are generally of a higher quality, though stopping animations is essential for me to read the text. (Not sure how common that is.) Since when has Youtube put ads in the videos? Sure, "half of the videos" are ads of one sort or another but I choose to see them.


more than 4 years ago

US Sets Up Emergency Multi-Band Radio Project

billsf Check with amateur operators (130 comments)

The capabilities described seem to be no greater than (modified) ham radio gear. I simply don't see what all the fuss is about. Commercial products are __far__ cheaper and far easier to assess the bugs, including "birdies". (If you've ever used a spectrum analyser you why there called birdies. :)

more than 4 years ago

State of Sound Development On Linux Not So Sorry After All

billsf Linux sound may seem complex but... (427 comments)

Any MSWindows sound is an "audiophile torture device". In a bar after a business meeting, we were constantly telling the bartender to "Turn it down". It is almost certain he recognized us as being part of the music business and simply wanted us to hear his music. MS Windows -- No thanks.

ALSA isn't that bad and I thought OSS was open-source, at least it is to me. To emulate ALSA just requires a few symlinks in /dev. In BSD if, say, pulse fails, no problem: There is another system to take over. I take my music very seriously and own a pair of Genelec 1030's as my "PC sound system" to prove it. A EUR 5,-- C-Media USB sound chip in a circuit of my own design blows away any commercial sound card. Gamers may like "Realtek" but they are simply good at what they are designed to do: Make noises!

Linux sound is OK, but I stick to BSD because it offers the best "multimedia" performance available today. Of course I use a hand-compiled MPlayer for the video stuff. Doesn't everybody use libmad.so for mpeg sound? Madplayer is a simple demo for the library and nothing beats it for mp3. Today FLAC is the smart choice and you can encode with virtually just the libs. I like flac123, but pulse sure doesn't. ;) I've ported flac123 to Linux and it works fine.


more than 4 years ago

First Look At Windows 7 On an Entry-Level Netbook

billsf Re:Browser is the OS (435 comments)

Maybe it sounds a bit trollish, but Windows is in reality a 'browser OS'. The CMD prompt really isn't a DOS prompt or at least not in its 'out-of-the-box' form. (Desktop abstractions on any system are just browsers, but at least one can go 'under the hood' in a fairly straight-forward manner on Unix-like systems.)

The previous author appears to want a stand-alone browser that requires no OS and is written in assembly. I'm sure it would run circles around any compiled browser -- even at 100MHz. ;) Unfortunately memory is so cheap that very bad programming techniques are usually used. In the real world several libraries may be used for just a single function each: Can you say bloat?

If things ever settle, maybe then, truly good software will appear again. With the present rate of obsolescence, it just isn't economical to compete with just a truly good product. When memory was expensive (all types) and processor speeds were very slow, say in the early 70s, there wasn't any alternative to good coding. Even at a handful of MHz, there seemed to be greater satisfaction than today. What people want from a computer is quite twisted from what a machine can really deliver. So, we live with the fact the masses of idiots have computers.

more than 4 years ago

Cosmetic Neurology

billsf Pilots say: "Speed saves" (369 comments)

How can such a helpful class of drugs be so demonised? Pilots, mostly military -- presumably -- have often said it was what got them and their plane home alive. Clearly there is a downside,
but 15mG of a racemic mix is a very small dose of amphetamine. Its a very common 'programing fluid' which can be borne out by studying some code. No names mentioned, but there are those that smoke pot, drink coffee/Jolt and those that do amphetamines and amphetamine-like drugs or even beer. :)

If I was stoned, I might have to get stoned to understand what I did, same for 'drunk', wired or jacked up on caffein or any combination. MODERATION is key -- always. I never used stimulants,
alcohol or pot in university. (college was the reward for not using)

What's the big deal? I guess its 'still shocking' to the New Yorker types, but used properly, drugs get the job done. Personally I can't type stoned, but I can make written notes. LSD is
certainly not very smart, but it can in rare moments provide access to 'hidden insights'. Only once did I get a good piece written while tripping that impressed many when published in the
S.F. Chronicle.

Finally drugs are best on the short term. Take speed (meth) to kick out those lines of code and meet a deadline. Maybe a week of use is about all its good for? As another reader said: "What's new" and I agree. Smoke a joint to relax when done. :) If you are leaving the wrong impression on
others: Moderation! Be cool.


more than 4 years ago

Reflections On the Less-Cool Effects of Filesharing

billsf Airplay (458 comments)

To almost any musical act: "Airplay" is everything! File sharing may not be the most efficient way, but it does accomplish what all entertainment wants: "Airplay". Also remember the basic right: 'Try before you buy'. The article is bullshit; no way in hell can anyone expect payment for all times a song (or movie) is played. Within the people I know, the vast majority of downloads are discarded. It would be unacceptable to pay for everything. There is no better way to discover new talent. If the mass media radio won't play it, you must take it and see/hear it for yourself.

Its like free software. Mostly you either toss it, but if its a good idea, you expand on it. Somehow I can't see the difference: Market sets the price. Stamping on price tags is just a delusion from those that think they are worth far more than the market provides. ANY COST is set by the market, not the producer.



more than 4 years ago

How Does Flash Media Fail?

billsf 'Flash' wear: Static, Connector Wear and Filesys (357 comments)

Most removable 'flash' media probably dies from ESD and wear of the connectors. I've never knowingly lost one, but from the destroyed ones brought to me, it looks like static or possibly 'hot insertion'. 'Flash' is ideal for static file systems like /usr or /, etc. I use an image of the memory on hd and simply do something like dd if=/dev/image of=/dev/flash bs=16k. Systems that use inodes (just about all) are best and MS file-systems that use FATs are the worst. Even if you must use FAT file-systems, copying a formatted image to hd with dd and using it (the hd) to manipulate data and then putting the _whole_ image back with dd will never wear out. (over 1.000.000 cycles possible)

So to make it simple: Read from the flash and write to it sequentially before power is removed. This is the Unix solution. I'm not that sure if Windows can do it. Also write times will be up to 100x faster, often greatly exceeding the rated speed which is based on the FAT that it comes pre-formatted with.



about 5 years ago

10 OSes We Left Behind

billsf "X marks the spot" (562 comments)

Two decent articles from a magazine geared to the consumer computing world. "X" is certainly not an OS as was finally revealed on the last page of the first article. Every modern graphical display uses some mode of "X" to paint the picture. The foolishness of NT, up to and including NT7 (Windows 7) is making X an OS.

Surprisingly nobody mentions VMS, but doesn't everybody know VMS clicks up to WNT? IBM becomes HAL ...Duh!
The articles make it very clear every modern OS is somehow related to UNIX. It fails to mention that QDOS means "Quick and Dirty Operating System". The extremely awkward '\' and the use of '/' as a weak form of '-' in Unix, were indeed intended to poke fun at Unix itself. (Microsoft never got the joke.)

In many cases, the Unix command line is far more efficient than using a graphical environment. The awkwardness of DOS may be just cause for saying the command line in Windows may not be better at anything. (CMD is the suckiest shell ever made.) If stuck with Windows, (rarely happens) the CMD shell can really save you, but lacks most of the useful commands and features of the Unix shells.

Might I add, I forever tossed out the idea of using NT back in 1993 when it destroyed ten CD writeables that were ten or twenty bucks each. Long live Unix and X!


about 5 years ago

What to Fight Over After Megapixels?

billsf Mega-* No! Its the lens... (596 comments)

The single most important part of any camera is the lens. My old Cannon is better with 2.2MP than the modern 'snapshot machines' with up to 16MP. Its got a decent lens, no snapshot thing or phone, for that matter does.

more than 4 years ago

How Web Advertising May Go

billsf Re:Anyone actually BUY anything because of web ads (229 comments)

No, never! If something gets through my filters I will make it a point to NEVER buy from the company that "placed" the ad. I can make one exception: Those are the ads that come from the actual site. If they use flash or move in any way, that halts at once. You cannot easily focus when something is moving.

Some may argue that ads keep the net alive. (Yes servers that take targeted ads pay many times more.) To that I say, I keep the ad, but it never gets to my eyes. This serves a second purpose -- Advertisers in print and on TV often have the control of the editorial content. Its therefore worth periodically taking a quick check on who advertises. Chances are I don't buy from them and __certainly NOT__ if it is through the Internet!


more than 5 years ago

Anyone Besides Zune Owners With New Year's Crashes?

billsf Re:Nothing crashed on me -- madplayer hicked howev (480 comments)

How many of me? Just me, I'm the real BillSF..... If you mean how many are against the 'leap second' a quick search turned up this general article: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026875.400-calls-to-scrap-the-leap-second-grow.html and there is quite a bit more. In fact the first comment to the New Scientist article almost sounds like me. (Its a coincidence, I'd not seen it before.)

more than 5 years ago


billsf hasn't submitted any stories.



Re:Getting PCs to the third world

billsf billsf writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Its not exactly clear if this goes to MsGeek's journal or my own. Anyways, MsGeek, whoever you are, and aparently you refuse to reveal your true identity and email address, i hope you read this and might even dare to reply to my real mail.

You made some interesting points for the day. Turns out you were wrong on all counts. Can't you take the word of a known hacker that all is cracked? For the real wimps there are 'modchips' that some soldermonkey will install for a nominal charge. More importantly, there are 100% software solutions today. As if you think i didn't know those were available when you posted. You can now download a kernel from Gentoo.org that turns an X-box into a 'workstation' of sorts. (Never mind the crappy TV picture.....)

Anyways here is the scoop. Microsoft fought so hard in this hopeless battle to prevent 'cheating' and the possibility of selling 'game points' multiple times. Certainly this is a delusion as anything that goes on an ethernet or whetever you use can be intercepted and any 'encryption of M$ has no 'salt' and if you don't know what that is -- give up!

Oh well, you are wrong totally and i knew it then. Shut up and be a good sheep. BaAaAaAa.... ("sheep" is the preferred term for computer illiterates in Europe) Maybe you'll get currious and get Unix on a PC? I hope you do and this is nothing personal.

It is great stupid companies give away hardware in hopes of selling software. Any smart company makes hardware, reveals all details and simply throws in the software. People BUY hardware as they can touch it. I'm right and have made $Millions along with many others who suscribe to this point of view. Don't worry, i pay good programmers well and they can even share in the fortunes. The bubble burst, but only for lame 'new ecconomy' companies. I hope you can see it now.

BTW, why make over a thousand postings in hopes one or two will be winners? Somehow i sometimes think i'm allways over the heads of Americans, but they sure like me in the UK, Australlia and ofcourse, Europe, where i live.

Also it appears you use IDE. You can make a real drive (or even an ATAPI/SCSI drive) do all the tricks. You NEVER have to run a drive backwards as memory is cheap and can do it all for you, but if there is a need to run a DVD backwards and if the Xbox actually can do that, more power to it as it will save on memory. Please don't underestimate the power of a PC! The top PC's of today are on par with the Crays of the eighties. The gap is getting narrower all the time and SMP (old hat to the Cray) will put real power on your desk. You just can't squander it to inferiour graphical user interfaces. (Sure Unix X sucks, but you can allways have your full computing power at your option!)


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