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Comment: Re:It should be (Score 1) 364

by Cyberdyne (#47902537) Attached to: Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

It should be the car that is disabled (or your license taken away)

Exactly - as they do already in the UK: get caught driving while using a mobile phone, you get 3 penalty points. That puts your insurance premiums up in itself, and if you reach a total of 12 points, no more driving for a few years. The penalty may be increased to 6 - in which case, get caught driving on the phone twice, you're in the passenger seat for several years. If someone's been caught driving on the phone (whether texting, talking or reading Slashdot), why let them continue driving at all? Will disabling the phone stop them driving while fiddling with the radio, eating, shaving etc? Of course not - so get them away from the wheel and let them text all they like as passengers.

Comment: Re:A solution in search of a problem... (Score 1) 326

by Cyberdyne (#47902361) Attached to: Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

It is against the law pretty much everywhere. However that law is enforced pretty much nowhere. It is just simply too difficult to enforce it, as a police officer has to catch the person in the act to even write a ticket. And then the ticket is so laughably small in terms of the monetary penalty as to be pointless to even write.

Here in the UK, the penalty is that you get one-quarter of the way to no longer driving (3 penalty points, where 12 means a driving ban); the government announced earlier this year they were considering doubling that to halfway, i.e. get caught doing it twice (within 3 years) and you won't be driving again. However small the risk, I suspect that's a big enough deterrent to scare many - particularly since it would often mean losing their job too. You don't have to be caught red-handed, either, just suspected enough for the police to investigate, then they check the network usage logs and confirm you were using the handset at the time in question. (Or get seen on a traffic camera, of which there are many.)

The idea in the article is just silly, though.

Comment: Re:Agree 100% (Score 1) 253

by Cyberdyne (#47830039) Attached to: Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

The difference is that phones are small and you only need to stock a dozen models to serve most clients.

Only a dozen? Let's see... within the iPhone 5S range in the US, we have 3 different storage capacities (16, 32, 64 Gb) in 3 different colour schemes, with 4 different network setups (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/unlocked). That's 27. 40 more for the iPhone 5c (5 colours, 2 sizes, 4 networks). The iPhone 4S is still for sale, but "only" 8 options there because it's 8 Gb only now - except the 3 larger ones are still under warranty, so make that another 32. Then we get the 4 and 3GS - but I'll stop there, because we're already at 99 different handsets for the iPhone alone, before we get into Android handsets! Call them $333 each on average, that's $33k of handsets you're mandated to store but not sell. That's insane - just to avoid a 24 hour wait to Fedex a replacement handset to you!? (Not to mention I'd rather have the replacement shipped to me next-day anyway rather than spend hours travelling just to collect it myself.)

Also, I seem to recall some of the Apple fan sites actually monitor stock levels in Apple's own stores - it usually takes a while for stores to have stock on hand after a launch (while customers buy up stock as soon as it arrives), then once a model is old they start running down stocks to avoid being left holding old kit. So, even Apple themselves don't actually carry stock on the scale the poster seems to be demanding, let alone 3rd party repair shops/vendors!

A few years ago, my MacBook Pro's Superdrive failed. Standard part they'd been using for years ... the Store would have a spare in stock surely? No, I had to wait a week for them to get one shipped from Panasonic ... then I was told I'd have to leave the MBP with them for up to another a week to fit it. Of course, by the time I add up the travel costs alone for 3 visits, I'd have spent the price of a brand new external drive, even before factoring in the c 10 hours of my time spent going to and from the Apple Store, so I told them to install the replacement drive somewhere it wouldn't fit easily and bought an external drive.

So, this legislation would be a hugely expensive "solution" to a trivial problem - and, of course, there's no guarantee that on the day your pink 32 Gb iPhone Verizon 5c happens to need replacing, someone else won't already have claimed that one replacement unit, so you can't have it anyway. Would the legislation somehow guarantee a quick replacement of the replacement by Apple, too? Or it would have to mandate everywhere having two of every handset, in case the first one's already taken ...

Comment: Re:The difference is.. speed? (Score 1) 542

by Cyberdyne (#47802009) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Yep, once we hit 6 Mb per screen we should be all set... that's the speed compressed HD video moves at at most. Anything that moves faster than a 1080p screen can't be represented by humans that fast, until we get to 4Kx1080.

That's something that hit me quite recently: with an 80/20 Mbps VDSL2 line, I can honestly say it's "fast enough" for everything I do. My satellite STB has a semi-streaming mode, where it downloads a whole show and will start playing once it has enough to play through without pausing for buffering - and it always starts in seconds. Big downloads, I'm almost always limited by the far end anyway; they tend to take longer to install than to download anyway - so if I had the option of a faster link, would I actually get any benefit at all? Previously, I jumped on every increase: from dialup (pricey, even a 30 Mb download was an ordeal) to half-megabit cable modem (yay, I could grab hundred meg files overnight), to ADSL, ADSL2+ (nothing big enough to leave downloading overnight any more), 50 Mbps cable modem, getting a big improvement each time. (I even have the option of upgrading to 330/30 if I want, for a price ... and it really isn't tempting, in the way I would have jumped at any chance of better speeds before.)

Comment: If the Grand Ayatollah's against it.... (Score 1) 542

by Cyberdyne (#47801769) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"
The funny thing is, I recall a Labour MP here in the UK saying something comparably dim back in 1998! At that point, all we had was expensive metered dialup; I was in a group campaigning to change that, and happened to meet him at some event. His reply was that he "didn't think the Internet was a good idea". One of those moments I really, really wish I could have recorded!

Comment: Re:Broadcom... (Score 4, Informative) 165

by Cyberdyne (#47796203) Attached to: Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled

The choice [of a Broadcom SoC] by the RPi-team was utterly stupid and can only be attributed to incompetence.

Well, Eben Upton's job working for Broadcom was probably a factor there... Personally, I'd trace the idea back before he had that job - I recall a discussion about the Gameboy Advance developer kit in the summer of 2002, and the lack of affordable programmable devices at the time. I suspect he'd have had a real struggle getting anywhere close to the Pi's target price without getting discounted access to the Broadcom SoC he used, though. I haven't spoken to him recently, but my impression was that far from "RPi Foundation pressed Broadcom to stop selling BCM2835 to competing projects" as claimed, it was more "Eben twisted arms and got Broadcom to give RPF a special cut-price deal so they could afford it".

If anyone were to bring out a rival device from a "significantly superior" competitor, I'd be delighted to see it - and I suspect most if not all of the RPF people would too, since it wasn't about making money by selling lots of systems. (Of course, Broadcom didn't buy up the remains of ARM's parent company for nothing, so I'd be surprised to see something much better from a rival!) I was happy to see the Pi being ARM based, as a fan of ARM as far back as the ARM2 I first programmed, but I'm also happy to see rivals like the MIPS32 one mentioned recently: I like ARM, but I also like having a choice of platform, both hardware and software!

Comment: Re:That's nice, but... (Score 1) 419

by Cyberdyne (#47795833) Attached to: Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

But acting like they don't, or even loosing a minor case might set other criminals at ease about the security of their data within the Microsoft infrastructure.

Which, of course, could be exactly what the NSA want - police and FBI priorities may differ, but I suspect the NSA would rather have access to more information, thanks to a false sense of security, even at the expense of not being able to use it in court easily. If they "win", they get to use evidence this time - and they just warned the next hundred criminals to avoid MS servers, because of this case. "Lose", and they can keep reading it all in secret, using the information behind the scenes instead.

Comment: Not the PSUs? The actual cables? (Score 2) 137

by Cyberdyne (#47763725) Attached to: HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

How do you fuck something like that up?

All too easily it seems; my first MacBook Pro power lead caught fire a few years ago as well. This was the low-voltage (hence high current) end, though: in their quest to make everything thin and light, the cable was thin and flimsy, so one of the braided conductors frayed after a while. More current going down a thinner wire meant more heat - which softened the remaining copper and made the problem worse, until arcing started and I got a micro-firework display on my desk. (One of is successors managed to melt the plastic in the plug, that didn't make me happy either!)

On the mains end, even a hefty (for laptops) 300-odd watt PSU is only 3A from a US outlet, half that on the higher voltages elsewhere - usually easy enough to deal with, but one sloppy connection and you can get a tiny point getting very hot indeed. It's worse on the low voltage end: a single cable possibly carrying 20 or more amps, while getting rolled up, folded and stood on in transit, designed to be very light weight - yet also done on a budget. As soon as you start trying to shave weight and cost, I suspect it's all too easy for a wire to be just slightly too thin for the current, or a connection to be a little bit too weak for long term mobile use.

If you were building a high school or college electronics project and said you planned to run laptop currents and voltages through such thin wires and tiny connectors, you'd probably be told off or marked down - but commercially, thin, light and cheap trump safety margins and robustness.

Comment: Re:Expert?? (Score 1) 442

by Cyberdyne (#47693501) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

There is no such thing as negative energy price, unless you're retarded? Why would you pay someone to take your excess energy, when you can just dump it into the atmosphere through a resistor heating element? They are not that expensive, even if you have to finance one. Of course you might be benevolent and give it away for free, or even exert some effort out of love to they neighbor, and pay some for him to take it, but in a selfish capitalist view you can get rid of energy very easily, it's not like trash that is costly to get rid of.

You might not have a massive resistor handy at the instant you need it, but I suspect subsidies will play a part in this. If you get paid a certain subsidy per unit of electricity you produce, in addition to receiving whatever the wholesale price is at the time, you could still end up turning a profit by paying someone to receive your surplus electricity. (In Europe, there are also obligations for power companies to get a certain % of power from renewable sources - so it could be better for them to take this power now, giving it away for free or even paying a big industrial customer a tiny bit to use it, just to meet the government targets.) Hopefully, dumping that power into your own resistor bank doesn't earn you subsidy payments!

Comment: Re:Cox (Score 1) 93

by Cyberdyne (#47689185) Attached to: Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

I'm currently working on a project for Cox Communications in which they are chemically dissolving the foam inside of the coaxial cable conduit & then air blowing fiber through the newly created space inside the conduit. Pretty cool stuff. This avoids the costs associated with permitting, digging new trench & burying separate fiber conduit & they can use the DWDM hardware they already have on hand instead of buying new systems like this.

Wow, that is neat. (At first, I misinterpreted that as dissolving the foam dielectric inside the itself - which could also be neat at some point, for doing FTTH, but rather more demanding.) I take it this is the "final mile" conduit between the cabinet and individual homes, or is it just pushing the HFC boundary down to street level for much shorter runs of coax?

Comment: Re:Fibre optic is almost her (Score 1) 93

by Cyberdyne (#47689077) Attached to: Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

Why are we still flogging the dead horse?
FTTH will always outperform copper, without exception, and it's gaining traction quicker than the telco would embrace G.Fast

In the long term yes - but the economics are very different short term. A couple of telco engineers could install VDSL2 (or, presumably, for a whole wiring cabinet - a hundred or more households - in the time it would take to run fiber to a single one of those premises. Apart from anything else, it seems right now all the engineers are busy installing those FTTC services; switching them to putting in more FTTP/FTTH would not only mean more expense, it would take longer, leaving everyone else on ADSL for longer. I suspect things will be different in a few years, once that FTTC rollout is complete and manpower is freed up.

I actually have the option of FTTH right now, if I wanted: 330 Mbps down, 30 Mbps up, using GPON. The problem is, I'd have to pay heavily for it: high three figures installation, then a three year contract lock-in at GBP 100 per month - just for the line to the exchange, that doesn't include any actual Internet connectivity! Needless to say, I'm staying on FTTC (VDSL2) for now: 80 Mbps down and 20 up, for a fraction of that price.

Now, when it comes to new housing, it's another matter: if you've got to go and dig up a road anyway to put in the wires to a new housing development, it's much the same cost whether it's copper or glass you put in (or both). So, you can sometimes get a fiber connection for the price of VDSL2!

Comment: Re:Seems like it would've worked (Score 1) 97

by Cyberdyne (#47688809) Attached to: How California's Carbon Market Actually Works

Sadly, much of it comes from coal, but e.g. in Norway a huge amount comes from hydroelectric plants. That is why oil refining and metalworking is a large industry in Norway.

Yes, Norway's quite good in that respect - as is the US Pacific North-West, as I recall: the abundant hydro-electric power gave Microsoft and Amazon a cheap, clean electricity supply for their early "cloud" offerings. Eroded now by global expansion, I think: once they built huge hosting sites elsewhere, they used whatever power was present in that area, usually something much less clean. Of course, Norwegian oil refining activity will also be boosted significantly by the small detail of having a major oil supply, unlike other European countries...

I've seen a few hosting outfits offering "carbon neutral" services, which I think you can do quite affordably by locating somewhere with suitable clean power. A bit of a niche market compared to more mainstream hosting services, but there's obviously some demand there.

In a sense, CA is getting what it voted for: stamping out "dirty" industry. Other countries are getting what their governments want/permit: economic growth, regardless of CO2 etc. I suspect both will regret it to some extent and change course: China has a major smog problem and is trying to clean up, CA has a major economic problem and power shortfall and will have to give that a higher priority soon, if it isn't already.

Comment: Re:Microsoft naming practices (Score 1) 426

They need to pick a name which is similar, to be identifiable, but less tarnished by past bad experiences. I propose Infernal Excrement: still "IE", but much less off-putting than the name they have soiled so badly with IE6 and other fiascoes.

To be fair ... it does suck much less now. I suppose it's rather like working for a surviving offshoot of Enron or Lehman Bros... Who, thinking about it, have probably done less economic damage globally than IE has.

Comment: Re:Dead as a profit source for Symantec, well, ... (Score 2) 331

by Cyberdyne (#47688447) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

Othervise, it would have been nice to allow only certain binaries or software developers/publishers to run. It would also be nice to sign the binaries and not allow changes.

That would be less help than you might expect (although OS X does do exactly this by default now). Remember all those Word macro viruses of a few years ago? Totally unaffected: it's a genuine copy of MS Word that's running, it's just doing something it really, really shouldn't be. Likewise any browser exploit. Trojans have always relied on the user to execute - and in general, they will execute them, whatever dire warnings you may put in place, unless you can give them a totally locked down system (which, even in a strict corporate setting, is often politically impossible). In a University setting, I've had very senior academics call me up with "I can't open this CampusLife.pdf.exe file someone sent me ... and it won't open on my secretary's PC either." Of course it was malware - but any computer restrictions to prevent that would probably have resulted in unemployment rather than a more secure PC. Telling people at the top of the food chain "you aren't allowed to do that" just won't work. (Fortunately, opening that particular worm did nothing anyway - it either relied on Outlook, or having outbound port 25 open, neither of which applied at that time.)

Ultimately, for anything more than the most limited functionality, you will have security holes - just like you will get hard drives and power supplies failing, keyboards and mice getting choked up with gunk. Reduce the risks where it makes sense (RAID and redundant PSUs for servers, good patch management, sensible firewall settings) and then deal with things that go wrong effectively when it does happen (spares, backups, etc).

Like real life, take sensible security precautions - but going too far can do as much harm as having poor security. Do you drive everywhere in an armored vehicle with armed escorts? Unless you're POTUS or equivalent, that would just be silly - I seem to recall there have been cases of people dying after getting trapped in "panic rooms" after false alarms, because medical help couldn't get to them in time! So, don't be the computer equivalent: blocking attachments entirely is secure, but is it useful?

Comment: Re:Dead as a profit source for Symantec, well, ... (Score 4, Interesting) 331

by Cyberdyne (#47688349) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

The controller feels that this is more or less an acceptable trade-off over time -- my labor cost to rebuild the PCs vs. the ongoing cost of AV.

They are probably right there - of those 3 rebuilds, how many do you think would have been prevented by paying more for any given AV product? Thinking back, I can remember several PCs needing recovery work because of the AV system in use (good old McAfee pulled down an update which declared a piece of Windows XP itself to be malware and need deletion - leaving a machine you couldn't log in to until that file was reinstalled), and probably two nasty infections for me to clean, which got in despite McAfee being present with fairly paranoid settings.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.