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Comment: Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 77

by AmiMoJo (#49163709) Attached to: Ikea Unveils Furniture That Charges Your Smartphone Wirelessly

In fact one of the competitors has already agreed to become Qi compatible, so basically given up and started concentrating on just delivering turn-key solutions rather than its own standard that no-one uses.

Qi is the only one anyone uses or cares about. The others had the dubious "advantage" of requiring a two-way link between the charger and device, exchanging serial numbers and other data. The public justification was to allow charging money for the service, but it was marketed to business as a way to track devices (and thus people) using your "free" chargers.

Qi has already won, fortunately.

Comment: Re:Not actually batteryless (Score 1) 99

by AmiMoJo (#49163677) Attached to: Ultra-Low Power Radio Transceiver Enables Truly Wireless Earbuds

I've wondered about the legality of crystal radios in the past. People who live near transmitters or overhead power lines have tried to harvest some of that power in the past, and been threatened with various forms of legal redress. Theft, interference, all sorts of stuff.

On the other hand crystal radios are apparently fine. Installing a big metal fence that blocks your neighbour's mobile phone and FM radio reception is fine (as long as it doesn't spoil the view). The neighbours also knew when I was playing with my model train set because that used to interfere with their TV reception.

I could get an ordinary set-top TV antenna, connect a simple energy harvesting circuit (resistor and some Dickinson doublers to produce a useful voltage) and run a small LCD clock from it easily enough. Am I stealing their radiated energy, or is it a really great way to power remote sensor nodes?

Comment: Re:Nope (Score 1) 177

by AmiMoJo (#49163635) Attached to: Samsung Officially Unpacks Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge At MWC

Just install an FTP server. I never bother plugging my phone in any more (wireless charging). When I want to copy some files I just open the FTP server app up and send them over wifi. Full access to the device's filesystem, no root required.

Having said that, when I did use a cable in the past I could access all files on the SD card over MTP, so maybe your issue was due to a vendor specific implementation. I know that Samsung's was a bit different to the stock Android one.

Comment: Re:Nope (Score 1) 177

by AmiMoJo (#49163617) Attached to: Samsung Officially Unpacks Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge At MWC

Back in the day when it was a choice between 8GB and 16GB a lot of shops were selling "16GB" devices that were actually 8GB on-board and an 8GB SD card. Most consumers didn't care, they never used the SD card slot anyway or even realized it was there, and they were getting a "16GB" device for much less than the official retail price due to memory upgrade rip-off pricing.

Comment: Re:Nope (Score 1) 177

by AmiMoJo (#49163609) Attached to: Samsung Officially Unpacks Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge At MWC

It likely means it feels more robust and well made. I have an S5, and while it is a good phone, the plastic cover makes it feel a bit cheaper and flimsy.

Ironically the exact opposite is true. If the case is made of good quality plastic it will be more resistance to scratching and damage than metal/glass, and much more resistant to permanent bending or cracking when flexed. As the iPhone 6 demonstrated, metal is not a good material for things that get stressed for long periods of time in people's pockets. Oh, and don't forget that making the metal case part of the antenna probably isn't a good idea either.

Metal is little more than decorative anyway most of the time. It adds little to the rigidity of the phone and can't be used too extensively because it will interfere with the various radios inside the device, Glass looks nice for about five seconds before it gets covered in fingerprints and cracks far too easily. Plastic is flexible enough to withstand being dropped.

High quality, built to last smartphones are made out of good quality plastic. Expensive crap marketed as a fashion accessory is made out metal and glass. Sadly it looks like Samsung has decided to join Apple in making overpriced, weak phones that sell for 2-3x the price of everyone else's.

Comment: Re:FEO (Score 1) 280

by AmiMoJo (#49163561) Attached to: Google Wants To Rank Websites Based On Facts Not Links

Those aren't facts though... In the popular sense of the word perhaps, but probably not what Google engineers are thinking. Chances are they are looking for common myths, commonly mis-attributed quotes, simple mathematical errors, typos and the like.

I'm thinking things like "glass is a liquid", "we only use 10% of our brains", getting famous people's birthdays wrong etc.

Comment: Re:Last straw? (Score 1) 290

What I really can't understand is why young girls are leaving Europe to go and be with these guys in Syria. They don't get to fight, that is forbidden except in the most desperate of circumstances. Instead they get to be sex toys and baby factories for beaded losers with poor personal hygiene, who will eventually die and quickly forget about them while indulging in their 72 virgins.

Comment: Re:how ? (Score 1) 290

by AmiMoJo (#49163409) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

Actually it is pretty common to disable JTAG on consumer hardware. Sometimes it can be done in software and so the possibly of re-enabling it in a sort of debug mode exists. Typically though it's just disabled because it isn't needed. Hard drive manufacturers ship millions of units, and when they come back for repair they aren't interested in doing a careful diagnostic with JTAG. The controller tells them what is wrong, or if it is dead they just replace it and start the self diagnostic before sending the drive back out as a refurb.

Another reason to disable JTAG is security. These days many drives support encryption, especially SSDs, or at least some kind of password (ATA password feature). It used to be easy to circumvent because passwords and keys were stored in the controller's RAM or sniffable off the data bus, but manufacturers got wise to that. Disabling JTAG stops the RAM being read back easily.

Comment: Re:how ? (Score 1) 290

by AmiMoJo (#49163375) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

JTAG might not be enough, if they have disabled it after programming to protect the firmware. It's even possible that the JTAG interface was interfered with somehow and returns false data. Firmware can still be checked but only by more destructive means, e.g. decapping the chip.

The question is what to do in the mean time. Personally I buy all my storage media in cash, in person in the far east. I only buy Japanese/Chinese/Korean drives that are made in the far east and never pass through the US, UK or other FIVEEYS countries. Of course, they might be bugged by one of those countries, but I'm not nearly as worried about China spying on me as I am about GCHQ or the NSA spying on me.

Comment: Re:Nope (Score 1) 177

by AmiMoJo (#49163183) Attached to: Samsung Officially Unpacks Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge At MWC

Sadly few phones are bothering with micro SD slots any more, but fortunately the good ones don't charge silly money for extra internal storage. When 64/128GB is so cheap I don't think SD cards are going to be important for much longer.

My OnePlus One does have a replaceable battery. The only thing I wish it had from factory is wireless charging, but I added that with an adapter from eBay that is invisible inside the case.

Comment: Re:Ars Technica and #Gamergate (Score 1) 97

by AmiMoJo (#49163141) Attached to: Twitter Adds "Report Dox" Option

To be absolutely clear, the YouTube videos and blog posts are the very things that the IRC logs refer to . Create a narrative through huge numbers of sock puppet accounts on Twitter, with sock puppet blogs and YouTube videos referencing them. Eventually other people get sucked in and start referencing them too. It looks like there is a real grass roots movement, when in fact it is a small number of people and some idiots who didn't research what they are retweeting.

It's right out of the leaked GCHQ playbook.

+ - World's first lagoon power plants unveiled in UK

Submitted by AmiMoJo
AmiMoJo (196126) writes "Plans to generate electricity from the world's first series of tidal lagoons have been unveiled in the UK. The six lagoons — four in Wales and one each in Somerset and Cumbria — will capture incoming and outgoing tides behind giant sea walls, and use the weight of the water to power turbines. The series of six lagoons could generate 8% of the UK's electricity for an investment of £12bn.

Tidal Lagoon Power wants £168 per MWh hour for electricity in Swansea, reducing to £90-£95 per MWh for power from a second, more efficient lagoon in Cardiff. The £90 figure compares favourably with the £92.50 price for power from the planned Hinkley nuclear station, especially as the lagoon is designed to last 120 years — at a much lower risk than nuclear.

Unlike power from the sun and wind, tidal power is predictable. Turbines capture energy from two incoming and two outgoing tides a day, and are expected to be active for an average of 14 hours a day. Friends of the Earth Cymru, said the group is broadly in favour of the Swansea lagoon."

Comment: Re:Poor choice of example (Score 0) 323

by AmiMoJo (#49155881) Attached to: We Stopped At Two Nuclear Bombs; We Can Stop At Two Degrees.

Actually today it is widely accepted (except in the US) that Japan was on the brink of surrendering before the bombs were dropped and they did very little to hasten the end of the war or save lives.

Japan didn't want to enter a war with the US. It knew that winning would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Japan was already committed in its own region. Geographically the US is too large to easily subdue, let alone its vast military strength and huge natural resources. The attack on Pearl Harbour was a desperate move designed to cripple the US navy and if not prevent at least delay a war while the US rebuilt. Japan felt that war with the US was inevitable at that point, but certainly didn't want it and had little interesting in conquering the North America. If they had invaded, Canada would surely have joined the fight.

Once the war started they were hoping that their pacific fleet would win it for them, or at least draw the US to a truce/stand off. Due to some bad luck and the skill of the US Navy that didn't work, and then they were screwed. By the time the atomic bombs were ready Japan was already on the brink of being forced to give up. People were starving, the military lacked many basic resources and couldn't defend Japan against US air attack effectively, nor retaliate. Many people in the government were pushing for a negotiated truce or surrender that allowed Japan to keep its emperor and some dignity. With Russia looking like it might attack from the west it was obvious that the end was near.

The US knew that Germany and Japan had been trying to develop nuclear weapons, but failed to do so. The assumption was that other countries would develop them eventually though, and atomic warfare would be a real possibility. Little was known about atomic weapons and their effects on cities and people, and there wasn't a great deal anyone could do to answer those questions at a time before computer modelling and advanced medical science. Japan was an opportunity to test nuclear weapons and see the results first hand. The Japanese people had already been demonized through years of propaganda, so there would be public support if it was sold as saving American lives. There were two types of bomb available and they tested one of each.

After the surrender US scientists and doctors were sent to the bomb sites to examine them and the people who had been injured. A lot was learned. Some were taken back to the US for treatment, billed as a humanitarian effort but actually more of an opportunity to study the effects and learn how to treat atomic burns with skin grafts and practice facial reconstruction.

Any claim that the bombs saved lives is speculation at best, and not supported by the facts. The horror of what happened is very real. I don't blame modern Americans for it, just like I don't hold modern Germans responsible for the Holocaust or modern Japanese responsible for the atrocities committed during WW2. I find it interesting that people sometimes criticise Japan for not acknowledging what it did enough these days, when the US hasn't even got as far as an acknowledgement for the most part.

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. -- Muhammad Ali

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