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Comment: Re:how many watts of power (Score 1) 179

by AndrewRUK (#30309928) Attached to: FCC Lets Radar Company See Through Walls

From the waiver, which was linked to in TFA:

"The EMMDAR steps through two hundred frequencies, spaced two megahertz apart from 3101 MHz to 3499 MHz, one at a time. It transmits on one frequency for 75 microseconds with a peak instantaneous power of 31.6 milliwatts, followed by a 17.5-microsecond "off time" between frequency steps. The complete cycle repeats every 18.5 milliseconds, resulting in a duty cycle for each frequency of 0.41%."

Notice, this things emits a maximum of 0.0316 watts, which is somewhat less that the several hundred watts used to cook your chicken pot pie.

Comment: Re:Wrong solution (Score 1) 143

by AndrewRUK (#30122608) Attached to: Hackers Fail To Crack Brazilian Voting Machines
Depositing the receipts with a trusted third party of the voter's choice is only marginally better than not having the anonymised vote numbers, since it means that your still relying on someone else to verify the counting process, and so the only benefit over having "trusted" audits of the voting machines is for those voters who decide to take the inconvenient option of keeping their receipts and checking in the newspaper themselves.

TBH, if you're introducing receipts into the process, why not have the voting machine print a receipt which is seen by the voter and then deposited into a ballot box, and provide for these receipts to be counted in the event of a dispute about the accuracy of the results from the machines? In this scenario, concerns about the lack of transparency with voting machines are lessened, because the machines are not providing the "definitive" result, they are just speeding up the initial count. (See my other post on this article for why I prefer this option.)

Comment: Re:Wrong solution (Score 1) 143

by AndrewRUK (#30113712) Attached to: Hackers Fail To Crack Brazilian Voting Machines
Unless you're relying on people to remember their vote numbers, you need to issue the numbers in a written format. And the person wanting to know how you have voted can demand that you show them this written copy of your vote number.

I agree that your system would work if the mapping from voter to vote number can be kept private, but bear in mind that any crypto system involving people is vulnerable to rubber hosing.

Comment: Re:Doesn't change a thing (Score 2, Insightful) 143

by AndrewRUK (#30110198) Attached to: Hackers Fail To Crack Brazilian Voting Machines
I beg to differ. Of course it's not possible for one individual to observe the entire election, but with paper ballots anyone can understand how the election works:
  1. voter goes to polling centre
  2. collect & mark ballot paper
  3. place ballot paper into locked ballot box
  4. when polling is over the locked boxes are taken to the counting location and opened
  5. ballot papers are then counted by hand (machines can be used the speed up the counting, but the option of hand-counting is still there) and the result is announced.

Anyone can understand how this process works, and can observe it in full (except for the actual point when the voter marks their ballot paper, since it's a secret ballot.) And here in the UK, there are observers throughout, not least from the various political parties (each of whom has an interest in ensuring that there isn't any fraud being committed against them) and the media. And if there's a dispute about the result, the counting can be easily verified.

Compare this to using an electronic voting machine:

  1. voter goes to polling centre
  2. select preferred candidate on screen and click "vote" (or whatever the UI is)
  3. ...
  4. when polling is over, the numbers from the machines are collated and the result is announced.

(I have deliberately left out how the votes are actually counted, as I'm not familiar with the actual systems in use, and (more importantly) this is how it will appear to most voters - as a magic box that takes their selections as an input and spits out a result as the output, with no understanding of how it does that.)
In this system the vast majority of the electorate will have no understanding of how it works, and nobody can observe the actual counting, they are reliant on techies checking the machines and saying "yes, this works properly." And if there is a dispute about whether the machines have counted the votes properly, there is no way to do a recount to verify the result. (I am deliberately ignoring electronic voting machines which produce a paper receipt, because in the event of a dispute the receipts can be counted - the machine is there just providing a faster method of counting.)

The first step to transparency is for people to be able to understand how the system is meant to work, only then can you move on to confirming that the system does work as it is meant to. Do you see now why paper voting is more transparent that electronic voting?

Comment: Pay by phone (Score 1) 863

by AndrewRUK (#29167997) Attached to: "Smart" Parking Meters Considered Dumb
One system that I've seen is Pay by Phone. I've not used it myself, but how it works is that each parking space has a number which you enter over the phone along with your vehicle registration number, how long you're staying, and your credit card details. The system allows you to add extra time over the phone, and avoids problems with broken/vandalised meters.

Comment: Re:Road signs (Score 2, Informative) 519

by AndrewRUK (#28638453) Attached to: Is Sat-Nav Destroying Local Knowledge?

Another London cyclist here!

I regularly cycle from zone 3 into central London, and would agree with everything xaxa has said. My two top tips are to try the TfL cycle journey planner (it uses the same information as the maps, and gives the distance and timings for the route) and, if you're going to commute by bike, ride the route at a weekend first to get a feel for it.

The traffic around Holborn definitely is rather crazy, but there are a lot of side streets that avoid most of it, and in rush hour most of it isn't moving anyway :-)

Comment: Re:Which explains why it is plain silly! (Score 1) 336

by AndrewRUK (#22839960) Attached to: Calculating the Date of Easter

Sometimes I think "the Church" makes things complicated on purpose, just to make it easier for them to retain control.
I think a version of Hanlon's razor may apply here - the setting of a fixed date for Easter would require agreement on what date to pick, and efforts on that front haven't got very far.
Privacy

+ - FBI Dodges Questions on Polygraph Screening

Submitted by
George Maschke
George Maschke writes "The FBI's belated response to written questions submitted by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee includes evasive and misleading replies to a number of questions posed regarding the FBI's polygraph program. While these questions are but a fraction of those asked, if the FBI's responses to them are representative of its responses to other questions, the need for stronger Congressional oversight could not be more clear."
Science

Ancient Astronomical Computer Decoded 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the consult-the-wheel dept.
slimjim8094 writes "A mechanical device from 150BC was found in a shipwreck. Upon examination with X-Rays, the device appeared to be a revolutionary computer used to calculate lunar cycles. This device "is technically more complex than any known for at least a millennium afterward." From the article "The hand-operated mechanism, presumably used in preparing calendars for planting and harvesting and fixing religious festivals, had at least 30, possibly 37, hand-cut bronze gear-wheels, the researchers said. A pin-and-slot device connecting two gear-wheels induced variations in the representation of lunar motions according to the Hipparchos model of the Moon's elliptical orbit around Earth."

MP3 Transmitters Now Legal In the UK 125

Posted by Zonk
from the yay-listening dept.
SilentOneNCW writes "From December 8th, it will be once more legal to own and operate an MP3 Transmitter in the UK, primarily used to convey music between an MP3 player such as Apple's iPod to your home or car stereo. The device was originally banned because their transmissions can override and interfere with legal radio stations, which is prohibited by the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949. Strong consumer demand for the devices and pressure from Liberal Democrats were among the primary motivators for the amendment."

AOL Digs Up Yard for Spam Gold 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the online-treasure-map dept.
Registered Coward v2 writes "AOL is planning to dig in a MA couple's yard looking for buried gold and platinum owned by a spammer they successfully sued for spamming AOL. AOL said Tuesday it intends to search for gold and platinum bars the company suspects are hidden near the home of Davis Wolfgang Hawke's parents on two acres in Medfield, Massachusetts. The family said it will fight in court to oppose AOL's plans."

Excessive Tech Packaging? 206

Posted by Cliff
from the it-should-be-a-crime-to-waste-all-that-plastic dept.
fraew wonders: "I just received a Microsoft Partner Program package in the usual MSDN sized box (34cm x 25cm x 11cm) that contained a single A5 piece of paper. Nothing more. Previously I've had RAM DIMMs and PCI cards double-boxed in boxes that approached the size of a computer case, so what is the worst example of excessive tech packaging you've received?"

Dangerous Apple Power Adapters? 240

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-thats-just-no-good dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Even with all these exploding Dell notebooks and other notebook safety problems, Apple has seemed relatively immune. Every once in a while, some odd thing came along, but it seemed like relatively calm waters. Not anymore — Apple's notebook power adapters appear to be the source of some serious safety concerns. Every iBook and PowerBook user should read this and keep a close eye on their adapter — the adapters suffer from very poor design including wires that seem prone to short out and burn and zero short circuit protection."

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