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Comment: "This isn't a permanent feature" (Score 4, Interesting) 367

by Constantin (#48068259) Attached to: Test Version Windows 10 Includes Keylogger

The article mentions that this 'feature' will be turned off once Windows 10 reaches broad distribution. Makes perfect sense actually

First you prove that the back door you've installed in the OS operates as expected. Then you sell key logger access to your user base on a case-by-case basis to the FBI, CIA, NSA or any other agency that is shaking big wads of cash in front of your nose while holding a 'keep it all secret' and 'get out of jail free' card for good measure (see various sections of the patriot act and other anti-terrorism, save-the-children, etc. legislation that have been aggressively 'interpreted').

Thus, encryption and other defensive measures are easily rendered useless as no AV system will detect a key logger 'feature' that is part of the operating system.

More profit for MS, less security for it's users. Brilliant.

Comment: E15 may be an issue... and not just for cars (Score 5, Insightful) 375

by Constantin (#42386883) Attached to: The New Ethanol Blend May Damage Your Vehicle

The percentage of ethanol is not just an issue for cars... boat owners have reported extreme issues with molded-in-place gas tanks where the fiberglass resin mix wasn't just right, which then led to the resins softening and dissolving into the gas. The resin juices then proceeded to destroy the engines in the boats by coating / clogging the fuel system and the chambers with this juice. Folks were allegedly going up and down the coast looking for gas stations that could guarantee 0% ethanol gas or forced to undertake a $$$ diesel repower of their power boats.

It's not as if refineries are going to ship a different blend of gas to most ship docks, doesn't make sense, is a distribution nightmare. They're going to ship whatever they have.

And here's the rub: The ethanol will also result in worse gas mileage because the stuff does not have the same bang per cubic volume as gasoline (i.e. 66%). Thus, the higher the ethanol volume fraction, the lower your vehicle's range is going to be. It's why cars designed to run on E100 in Brazil and elsewhere feature bigger gas tanks than cars designed for use with gasoline, for example.

At the end of the day, the ethanol debate is one of the best examples of how lobbying results in extreme market distortions, i.e. the adoption of a fuel substitute at the behest of the corn farmers in the midwest and the large corporate interests (ADM, etc.) which profit from the processing and marketing of the stuff. Now that natural gas is too practically too cheap to meter, expect even more fuel conversion efforts of this sort.

Comment: Nothing new here (Score 1) 232

by Constantin (#41784731) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Are You Preparing For Hurricane Sandy?

Is it a good idea to have your offsite backups in place? Sure, but why wait for a predictable natural disaster as opposed to a man-made one? The whole point of a viable backup strategy is not to have a single point of failure, including a reliance on predictable events.

In an ideal world, I'd have several heavy-duty chain saws at the ready, dripping in anticipation of cutting down wayward trees. But this being the real world, I'll leave my big boy chaps, kevlar gloves, etc. in fantasy-land and hire a professional should a tree make a unexpected entry into our home.

In fact, we're pretty carefree here... spoiled by the reliability of the electrical grid, with the longest off-line period being 23 hours thanks to a neighbor cutting the roots on a street tree, allowing said tree to tumble into the street and taking out two electrical poles in the process. So, no gen set, for example. Living on the edge...

Comment: Follow the money.... (Score 4, Interesting) 80

by Constantin (#37775454) Attached to: SMH Outs Copyright-Violation Hunters As Porn-Pushing Brothers

Even in the deepest, darkest days of the post 2000 internet bubble, one industry kept hiring the brightest and smartest DRM programmers they could find. And if you guessed/knew it was the porn industry, you are right. An acquaintance of mine went out to CA to enjoy the sunshine, the parties, etc.

The porn industry was years ahead of its allegedly less salacious competition (i.e. Hollywood studios) in terms of streaming content securely, etc. reflecting their profit motives perfectly - the internet remains the killer app for the purveyors of smut since it gives its users the false impression of pursuing their "hobby" in the privacy of their home. As a result, adult 'bookstores' are likely on the decline in all but the most rural areas thanks to high-speed internet becoming more and more ubiquitous.

But it seems that no DRM scheme has been unbreakable so far, so these sorts of draconian 'copyright' measures endorsed by smut kingpins and other content providers are simply another way to use the powers of the state to protect their economic interests. That the interests of the public may not be served by said legislation has been debated often, and usually in favor of reducing the length of copyrights to invigorate creative uses, discussion, etc. But, follow the money... and as long as content providers are sticking more cash into the popos of politicians than voters opposing such legislation, my guess is that politicians will parrot whatever soundbites they are told to repeat.

Comment: It's like a religion (Score 4, Insightful) 668

by Constantin (#37263462) Attached to: Measles Resurgent Due To Fear of Vaccination

.... there are risks associated with any medical procedure, including vaccinations. But vaccinations are among the safest things one can do for oneself and the community. The benefits far outweigh the risks, the science is clear on that. Most of the folk that oppose vaccinations do so out of unfounded fears, i.e. gut reactions, not rational reflection of the facts. Instead, they are swayed by the likes of Ms. McCarthy or Mr. Wakefield that there is some sort of giant medical conspiracy. It is precisely this sort of ignorance why more diseases like polio have not gone the way of smallpox, i.e. been eradicated in the wild. In the case of polio, it's thanks to nutty preachers in the affected remaining hotspots making similarly dreary claims re: the polio vaccine.

I attribute the willingness of parents to take a chance with herd immunity to the fact that they haven't themselves seen the effects of polio, whooping cough, etc. in the community around them. There is a reason that in years past people gladly lined up for polio vaccinations - they'd seen the impact, could better trade off the miniscule risk (especially with the post-Cutter-incident monitoring) with the benefits of not having dead, disfigured, or severely disabled children. Indeed, one of the biggest impacts of vaccination programs is the serious reduction in schools for the deaf, dumb, and blind.

Ironically, having rejected comparatively perfectly safe vaccination options, parents seem to have no issues with then putting all the interventionist methods to use to save their children if they do fall sick. I.e. take them to the hospital, operate, perform lots of heroic work to save the child... all of which would not have been necessary if they hadn't blindly followed quacks advice re: vaccinations. And that's what amazes me, the quacks of the world who promote anti-vaccination messages have yet to prove any causal link between MMR and/or thimerosal with autism, yet they stick to this piece of faith, not unlike the folk who will follow cult religions. It's pity for the kids, they have no one looking out for their interests.

Last but not least, what bothers me most about refusing vaccinations is that there will always be some members of the community that have to rely on herd immunity because their own immune systems are not fully functional, they are undergoing immuno-suppressing therapy, or they are allergic to some of the proteins inherent in the current manufacturing processes for most vaccines. Additionally, no vaccine is 100% effective - so depending on the ability of the virus or bacteria to spread through the community, a very high immunization rate is required to protect everyone in the herd, immunized or not.

I hope that some day the likes of Ms. McCarthy or Mr. Wakefield will own up to their hubris, character assassination, innuendo, etc. and apologize to the world not only for disrupting one of the most successful medical programs of our times, but also for killing, disfiguring, and traumatizing gaggles of children needlessly with their panic-mongering. This is not unlike shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre - especially in the case of Mr. Wakefield where key aspects of his 'research' were later found to be faked, massive conflicts of interest were not disclosed, and interpretations were drawn without the benefit of facts.

For anyone interested in the subject, I highly recommend the books written by Dr. Offit on the matter, especially "Autisms False Prophets", and "Deadly Choices". He details the characters of the anti-vaccination movements quite nicely and shows in reference after reference what the real impacts of vaccine refusal are.

Comment: Based on what I have read about the guy... (Score 4, Insightful) 225

by Constantin (#34482082) Attached to: Malicious Online Retailer Ordered Held Without Bail

... and hey, it's nothing more than an online article, I say good riddance. Threatening folk repeatedly with bodily harm, impersonating them to credit card companies, etc. should be a fast-pass lane to being disbarred from operating a business and going to jail without passing go and without collecting $200.

What troubled me about Mr. Borkers story more than anything is how easily he circumvented the various red-flag tripwires that credit card companies allegedly employ. And the allegation that he successfully impersonated a customer withdrawing a claim against him shows not only chutzpah but a big security hole over at the credit card company.

Bottom line is that the internet has allowed all sorts of scams to go nationwide and unless one can interest the Feds (via publicity in this case), one is SOL. Thus, he may serve as a business blueprint for a lot more scammers going forward.


One Night Stands May Be Genetic 240

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-in-your-genes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "So, he or she has cheated on you for the umpteenth time and their only excuse is: 'I just can't help it.' According to researchers at Binghamton University, they may be right. The propensity for infidelity could very well be in their DNA. In a first of its kind study, a team of investigators led by Justin Garcia, a SUNY Doctoral Diversity Fellow in the laboratory of evolutionary anthropology and health at Binghamton University, State University of New York, has taken a broad look at sexual behavior, matching choices with genes and has come up with a new theory on what makes humans 'tick' when it comes to sexual activity. The biggest culprit seems to be the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism, or DRD4 gene. Already linked to sensation-seeking behavior such as alcohol use and gambling, DRD4 is known to influence the brain's chemistry and subsequently, an individual's behavior."

Comment: The answer to your question may be OpenWRT (Score 1) 460

by Constantin (#34402886) Attached to: Free IPv4 Pool Now Down To Seven<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/8s

...runs on many cheap router platforms and allegedly is happy to do IPv6. The current Apple base stations also have two DNS entries set aside for IPv6 and another two DNS entries for IPv4 hosts. Another option is to repurpose an old laptop or mini to run any number of the open-source DNS servers out there and use that machine also to NAT, etc. Running your own DNS server has the additional benefit of speeding up lookups tremendously. But it is work and it consumes power... hence of marginal benefit unless you have a media server already running 24/7 and/or a craptastic provider like Comcast, whose DNS servers aren't all that reliable.

Comment: Thank you for your thoughtful reply... (Score 1) 272

by Constantin (#34297430) Attached to: Lawsuit Shows Dell Hid Extent of Computer Flaws

... but please allow me to respectfully disagree with some of your statements.

If my base station experience was so unique, why are there hundreds of e-mail messages in my mail file for Graphite Airport related issues alone? This month alone, over 450 visitors looked over the repair instructions for the graphite base station power supply. It's 2010, my friend and the graphite base station came out 10+ years ago.

I also qualified my statement re: Apple admitting issues with a getting a common manufacturing defect repaired to my experience alone... not the general customer experience. Since I have not owned an eMac/iMac/MacBook, I had no opportunity to experience the out-of-warranty repair programs you mentioned. Please do not generalize my statements out of context.

That Apple may have learned from prior issues is a good thing but I was not impressed with the Apple response at the time that the capacitor issue reared its head in the graphite ABS. IMO, the graphite airport base station was the tip of the spear of the capacitor plague problem. Based on the entries in the internet archive, Apple started publicizing out-of-warranty repair programs sometime around 2005, i.e. years after the graphite base station was released.

That you didn't hear one word about thermal issues is your experience. Perhaps it's because you wrote software and did not provide hardware support in the years after the product was released? Are there former colleagues that you might be able to ask who are in a better position to know what the in-field graphite base station hardware issues were over time?

I ask, because I heard about it hundreds of times. I had 3 out of 6 graphite ABS's I installed for friends and family break in a manner similar to mine. Not all of them in 13 months, like my first one... some took two years... I proactively upgraded / ventilated the remaining units but my guess is that they would have broken also. Why so many units in my part of the world failed and so little of yours will likely remain a mystery.

In a similar manner, I doubt that every iMac/eMac/etc. manufactured by Apple that you mentioned as covered by out of warranty repair programs has failed outright due to the capacitor problem. Likely, it's a question of usage, time, environmental conditions, and simple statistics. So while you may have repaired hundreds, even thousands of units, there may be some users out there today with functional eMacs that have not been affected by the problem.

Please also consider that the thermal issue was exacerbated by environmental conditions. A marginal design might work as long as the external air temperatures remain low. That is why I considered the lack of ventilation holes in the ABS case to be a design defect. If you look at at a Lucent unit from that era (i.e. when they got to wrap their own plastics around the same motherboard that Apple had sourced from them), it features lots of little slots for convective cooling.

Lastly, thanks for your help in bringing this amazing technology to the masses and cheers.

Comment: It's because they didn't design it... (Score 1) 272

by Constantin (#34290660) Attached to: Lawsuit Shows Dell Hid Extent of Computer Flaws

I didn't know Apple ever used a i86 in anything until they switched to Core2 about four years ago.

It's what happens when you buy a design instead of developing it yourself. My guess is that Apple lacked the internal expertise to design a WiFi router and card system in the time frame that they wanted to bring it to market. So, they looked around for companies willing to private-label their wares inside an Apple enclosure. IIRC, they had an exclusive on the manufacturing rights (i.e. Lucent couldn't sell or pimp it to others) for a year.

The early Apple PCMCIA Wifi cards for laptops and desktops also appear to have been Lucent based. The first generation of Apple Base Stations was interesting in that it consisted of a small motherboard with a modem daughterboard and a PCMCIA-slot into which the wireless transmitter card was inserted. Thus, some folk recycled these "silver" cards into their laptops after their base station died.

At the time, the Apple base station was by far and away the least expensive wireless base station on the market. Thus, I credit them with bringing Wifi to the masses and forcing other manufacturers to follow suit, price-wise. Subsequent generations of base stations switched to various flavors of RISC processors. See for a comprehensive list of Apple base station features, dissections, etc.

Comment: And you are a Anonymous Coward (Score 1) 272

by Constantin (#34290616) Attached to: Lawsuit Shows Dell Hid Extent of Computer Flaws

Apple posts their "recalls" all the time. This particular link can be found on, right now, under a column on the left called "Exchange and Repair Extension Programs":

But damn they sure do a good job of hiding those problems.

You, sir, are a moron.

Awww, what's next? Your Mama jokes?

That the page you reference may not have existed in the Year 2000 time frame never crossed your mind, did it? The internet archive only has it in existence going back to 2006. The hundreds of folk who wrote to thank me for pointing them to the unpublished knowledge-base article must have been morons too? Along with all the folk at Apple who had initially declined service for broken out-of-warranty base stations? That's quite an army of morons...

But it explains why you posted as an AC. Better luck next time.

Comment: They're not the only ones... (Score 3, Interesting) 272

by Constantin (#34285352) Attached to: Lawsuit Shows Dell Hid Extent of Computer Flaws

Dell may have been more customer-antagonistic than other manufacturers, but even alleged luminaries in the business were tainted by this issue.

My first Apple base station was based on a Lucent design that Apple put a graphite-colored plastic enclosure around. Naturally, the Job/Ivs-ian approach to mechanical design did not allow these base stations to have ventilation holes in them, even though they had a comparatively big internal linear power supply and were using a 486 chip. Combine that with all the remaining hardware and you had a nice hot little box, especially if you used the dial-up modem. A year later, and the marginal Lelon capacitors powering the the base station started bulging like Champagne corks or popping off altogether.

Naturally, Apple told its customers that the they were SOL if the unit was out of warranty after a year of ownership. Those who had AppleCare warranty could get refurbished units - usually in marginal cosmetic condition - and only if they mentioned that AppleCare covered attached peripherals. Apple never proactively contacted owners of graphite base stations to acknowledge the issue and to point owners towards repair options.

I got mad enough to investigate the issue, discovered the bad capacitors and created a web-page to teach others how to replace them or have service providers replace the capacitors for them. Not that hard to do. I also gave folk instructions on how to add ventilation holes to help these poor base stations cool better. The Lucent design covered much of the board with an EMI shield, which exacerbated the thermal problems - it's like encasing the electronics inside two heat shields.

As the issue affected more and more customers, Apple started a non-publicized warranty program that allowed customers outside the warranty period to get their unit replaced - but only if they knew what knowledge-base article to point the Apple drones to. Naturally, just as the program appeared one day, it also disappeared after a while - without a press release, notice to customers, etc.

All along, the typical answer from an Apple phone-drone was that they had never heard of the issue before. So, if you did a little digging at Apple, I would not be surprised if the SOP manuals for phone-drones include the 'suggestion' that every issue reported by an irate customer is 'unusual', 'never heard of before', etc. It's one way to mollify customers, especially those who don't know of the myriad of other customers affected by the same issue.

The only times I had Apple admit something outright was with the Santa Rosa graphics chipset problem, and probably only because by MacBookPro was covered under AppleCare. However, by then, a lot of of other folk had already been affected by this issue and NVIDIA was presumably paying for the PCB repairs. So I'm not sure if I can give Apple a pass on that one either. The first sets of customers were probably told that unless the unit was under warranty or AppleCare that they'd be buying a new motherboard and paying Apple for the privilege of getting it installed too.

Would the base stations have lasted longer if Apple had elected to use name-brand capacitors instead of Lelons? Perhaps, but any electronic appliance last longer with lower operating temperatures. Sadly, this is an issue that seems to continue to haunt Apple - a desire to design pretty enclosures whose thermal performance is at the borderlines of what the electronic hardware can tolerate.

Comment: I wonder... Has Mr. LaHood been called in before? (Score 1) 1065

by Constantin (#34274736) Attached to: US May Disable All Car Phones, Says Trans. Secretary

Over the years, my wife and I have called in several cars on the highway driven by folk who were unable to keep a lane, swerving all over the place, etc. Could the root cause have been a cell phone? Sure.. or drugs, alcohol, tiredness, conjugal activities, etc. No matter what the root cause of the bad operation, it was kind of useful to be able to call in these operators... hopefully, before they could kill someone.

While I'm at conspiracy theories, how about the green-mail angle? That is, dangle something draconian in front of the telecommunications providers in the hope that they donate generously to make the problem go away?

I'd like to think that the courts would strike this one down on the premise that the common good done by cell phone in moving cars outweighs the dangers... otherwise, we might as well have mandatory breathalyzers, "awakeness-monitors", and other nanny-state paraphernalia embedded in our cars, bicycles, segways, etc. Oh, wait, I should stop before Mr. LaHood gets all lathered up...

Comment: Please Scrap the TSA and start over (Score 4, Insightful) 647

by Constantin (#34222660) Attached to: National Opt-Out Day Against Virtual Strip Searches

The TSA has yet to catch a single terrorist before they attempted to commit a crime. Shoe-tosses, liquid bans, enhanced pat-downs, body scanners, and all the other reactive measures implemented by this agency ignore the simple fact that the FAA red teams still have no problems whatsoever to penetrate airport security zones at will. Why would a determined terrorist be any less able to do so?

Given that neither scanners nor pat downs can detect body-cavity contraband, the argument that terrorists cannot carry enough contraband into aircraft at this point to be dangerous is simply absurd. Plus, the TSA has not allocated any additional space to open up more parallel lines of entry into airports. So, all these scanners do is slow down the rate of passage to the point where massive security lines have become more inviting targets than aircraft themselves (Remember Rome/Vienna 1985?).

Lastly, please consider the very real situation in most airports where the so-called porno-scanners are regularly shut down during peak travel periods for the reasons given above. If it's that simple to bypass a scanner, then having the scanners there in the first place is completely pointless. Any terrorist worth his/her salt would simply observe the usual travel/security patterns and plan accordingly.

I always elect for a pat-down screening simply because I do not trust the statements made by the TSA re: the radiation levels being safe and some radiologists seem to agree. What I found particularly interesting in the context of one screening experience is the language used by the TSA - "opt-out". No, I didn't opt-out of security screening, I opted for an alternative screening procedure that is arguably safer since the gloves that the TSA folk wear are also tested for explosive residue. Language is important and the way the TSA is using it is contrary to what is actually going on.

Given the extremes that the TSA has gone to lie to the public (example: we don't save the pictures, except for the 35,000+ we sent to a private contractor), the arrogance that they treat the flying public with (the constant yelling at checkpoints), and the sheer ineffectiveness of the agency at meeting its objectives makes me conclude that the better approach is to scrap the agency, return its employees into the pools of privately-contracted companies that used to do airport security, and accept that 100% safety in flying is simply not possible.

Comment: Whether or not the technical issues are true... (Score 4, Interesting) 442

by Constantin (#34203782) Attached to: Why Unlocked Phones Don't Work In the US

The main point of the article should have been that the EU created a competitive landscape by restricting competitors to interoperability standards that do not exist in the USA - i.e. allowing customers to go from carrier to carrier without the need for a new phone. Here in the US, you are automatically subsidizing a new phone when you sign up for service with any major wireless company - and if you don't use the subsidy by buying a new phone every two years, then you're leaving money on the table. Yes, a waste, but that's what evolved over here vs. the general EU model of the customer providing the phone and the carrier supplying the SIM (though subsidized plans exist).

Me, I'd prefer the ability to switch carriers and not to have this hidden subsidy. If the phone works and you're happy with it, why quasi-require the owner to chuck it for a new model? Just more e-waste with no tangible benefit except for those that like to further line the pockets of wireless carriers through the use of additional (previously unreachable) services. I also like that the EU mandates that the caller to the cell pays for the call. Seriously cuts down spam calls - because calls to cell phones are 5x more expensive than landline calls. An additional benefit is the possibility of giving a phone to your kid and being able to call them at will - but they cannot make calls unless they refill the SIM bank account.

Anyhow, IIRC, the iPhone 4 has two external antennas that are nominally tuned to certain frequencies but which through some electronic happiness inside can actually cover a wider variety of frequencies than the one that they are 'naturally' resonant on. So your signal quality on a 700MHz band using a nominal 850MHz antenna may not be great, but it may still work. The current iPhone 4 is capable of handling signals ranging from 850MHz-2.4GHz... so the current design limitations may be just that, limits by design to lock folk into AT&T in the US market. Then again, I don't know enough about all the technologies, compatibility issues, etc. to say for sure that it can be done.

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.