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PC Pro - - November 2017 Issue 277 - Tim Dan­ton, ed­i­tor-in-chief, replies: You’re right that you shouldn’t be forced to pay to up­grade just to fix a vul­ner­a­bil­ity, but

When good maths goes bad

It goes with­out say­ing that the tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tific knowl­edge of your con­trib­u­tors is amaz­ing, but one would have thought that it would in­clude ba­sic maths. That’s is why I was stunned to read a school­boy howler in An­thony Leather’s re­view of the In­tel Core i9-7900X ( see is­sue 276, p50).

Talk­ing of the dif­fer­ence be­tween the £1,500 Broad­well-E and the £1,000 7900, he refers to “that 50% drop in price”. Most pri­mary school chil­dren would be able to tell him that a change from £1,500 to £1,000 is in fact a drop of 33%. James Gour­ley

Tim Dan­ton, ed­i­tor-in-chief, replies:

Well spot­ted, James. The other way around – go­ing up from £1,000 to £1,500 – would of course be a 50% in­crease, which per­haps ex­plains why prices al­ways seem to rise by more than they’re ever re­duced.

Who cares if Big Brother’s watch­ing?

Read­ing Ste­wart Mitchell’s ar­ti­cle on sur­veil­lance ( see is­sue 276, p14), it seems to me that there’s a lot of pseudo out­rage about this topic. It’s rem­i­nis­cent of the out­cry over iden­tity cards, in­va­sion of pri­vacy, Big Brother, and so on.

If one is not en­gaged in any­thing il­le­gal or un­der­hand what is there to fear? With global ter­ror­ism on the in­crease, it be­hoves us to al­low our se­cu­rity forces, both overt and covert, the max­i­mum ac­cess to data sources. Keith McIn­tyre

Tim Dan­ton, ed­i­tor-in-chief, replies: Safe to say this is a topic that tends to split peo­ple. To pro­vide some bal­ance, here’s what Ed­ward Snow­den had to say – most elo­quently – on the sub­ject. “Say­ing that you don’t care about the right to pri­vacy be­cause you have noth­ing to hide is no dif­fer­ent than say­ing you don’t care about free­dom of speech be­cause you have noth­ing to say. It’s a deeply anti-so­cial prin­ci­ple be­cause rights are not just in­di­vid­ual, they’re col­lec­tive, and what may not have value to you to­day may have value to an en­tire pop­u­la­tion, an en­tire peo­ple, an en­tire way of life to­mor­row. And if you don’t stand up for it, then who will?”

Why buy NAS-spe­cific drives?

Your NAS group test ( see is­sue 276, p74) ref­er­ences the pos­si­ble use of NAS-spe­cific hard disks, which are rather glibly dis­missed be­cause of a dura­bil­ity in­crease that is un­nec­es­sary in the ma­jor­ity of use cases: “If you’re buy­ing new drives, you can con­sider spe­cial­ist NAS disks such as the WD Red series, which are de­signed for heavy use and high-tem­per­a­ture en­vi­ron­ments. That’s great for busy of­fices, but for a home NAS it’s prob­a­bly overkill.”

My un­der­stand­ing of NAS-spe­cific drives is that they claim to have a greater MTBF and work­load rat­ing, so are bet­ter equipped for long op­er­a­tional pe­ri­ods when com­pared with stan­dard desk­top drives. There is, how­ever, un­der­stand­able scep­ti­cism about that claim.

Hav­ing had three stan­dard desk­top drives fail on my Win­dows Home Server dur­ing the years I ran it, I can con­firm that a longer op­er­at­ing life would have been use­ful.

You don’t have a time ma­chine to test op­er­a­tional life, but per­haps tak­ing a se­lec­tion of NAS-spe­cific drives and com­par­ing them against their sis­ter desk­top drives in one or two of the NAS units cov­ered in is­sue 276, might be an in­ter­est­ing test? Matthew Clark

One Last Thing

In his re­cent col­umn ( see is­sue 275, p130) Jon Honeyball cor­rectly states that, “We can’t have hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple us­ing vul­ner­a­ble soft­ware for years”, but he then goes on to say, “sim­ply be­cause they can’t be both­ered to up­grade”.

No, no, no! I agree that ev­ery­body should ap­ply se­cu­rity patches but this is not the same as up­grad­ing. Peo­ple shouldn’t be forced to up­grade sim­ply be­cause of se­cu­rity is­sues in re­leased soft­ware. Se­cu­rity up­dates should be is­sued - which are se­cu­rity up­dates - to ad­dress all known vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

If I want to use Of­fice 2003 with Win­dows Vista then that’s up to me. It’s up to Mi­crosoft to make sure that this sys­tem has no known vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, but not to say that I need to up­grade to a later ver­sion which has the is­sue(s) fixed. This is anal­o­gous to be­ing told that the car you are driv­ing has a known prob­lem with the brakes - but don’t worry; the lat­est model fixes this. Just get rid of your ex­ist­ing car and get a new one and you’ll be all right. You can imag­ine the up­roar this would cause if car manufacturers tried it. A com­puter sys­tem is no dif­fer­ent - de­spite what some peo­ple like to state to the con­trary.

De­spite what Jon and oth­ers may wish, a soft­ware li­cence is for­ever - and Mi­crosoft and oth­ers need to wise up to their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and start to ful­fil them - rather than putting the blame on the user. The blame is, and al­ways has been, on the sup­plier and that is where it re­mains. John Taylor

so long as the soft­ware isn’t dis­abled by the man­u­fac­turer when a vul­ner­a­bil­ity arises, I can’t see that hap­pen­ing. Ul­ti­mately, they can’t con­tinue sup­port­ing old apps for­ever as it’s not fi­nan­cially vi­able, just as car manufacturers won’t usu­ally sup­port a car out­side of its war­ranty pe­riod. At that point, it’s up to the owner to pay a garage to fix it for them, which isn’t all that dif­fer­ent to be­ing forced to pay for a vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty­patch­ing up­grade.

I’d give my right arm for an iMac

Your re­view of the lat­est 27in all-in-one Ap­ple iMac ( see is­sue 276, p62) makes ref­er­ence to the screen’s very limited ad­justa­bil­ity, which has al­ways been a fea­ture of that com­puter. The only ad­just­ment pos­si­ble, when us­ing the supplied stand, is a back and forth tilt; no height or swivel ad­just­ment.

Yet, I won­der how many of your read­ers know that it’s pos­si­ble to or­der an iMac with a stan­dard VESA 100mm mount (with­out a stand), with which it can be fixed to a flex­i­ble desk-mounted mon­i­tor arm and moved in all di­rec­tions. Such arms are avail­able for around £120, and are suit­able for a 27in iMac.

I bought my iMac just as the lat­est range was re­leased in June 2017 and that VESA mount is still avail­able. Com­bined with a flex­i­ble arm with built-in ca­ble man­age­ment, it of­fers cus­tom ad­just­ment to suit ev­ery re­quire­ment. Bet­ter yet, as the arm is barely vis­i­ble be­hind the iMac, it ap­pears to be float­ing in mid-air. If mount­ing on a con­ven­tional stand is pre­ferred at a later date, it’s pos­si­ble to buy a suit­able model with a VESA mount and fix the iMac to it. Miles Man­del­son

I won­der how many of your read­ers know that it’s pos­si­ble to buy an iMac with a stan­dard VESA 100mm mount

ABOVE You’re be­ing watched – but does it mat­ter, asks reader Keith McIn­tyre?

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