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Comment Re:Gun-free zone? (Score 1) 1148

Israel is in an active war zone, this tends to change things a lot.

His point still stands. Many, many people there have continuous access to weapons - and we're not talking consumer grade weapons either. Yet everyone isn't shooting up the place and killing everyone in sight when they have a bad hair day or get in an argument. You try to dismiss a major data point against your argument with a "tends to change things a lot", which doesn't hold water.

This shooting, like the vast majority of similar mass shootings over the last decade, was the result of mental health issues. Whatever our doctors and psychiatrists and counselors are doing today compared to 25+ years ago is failing miserably and resulting in many deaths.

Comment Re:Pulling that off was a major conspiracy (Score 1) 494

Hiding car emissions was not done by a couple of people. A large number in the people inside these companies were involved in pulling it off.

I've had the same thoughts all along, and it's now really looking that way:

The criteria, outcomes and engineering of cars that missed emissions targets were overseen by managers at Volkswagen’s base in Wolfsburg, according to the people who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Their accounts show the chain of command and those involved in the deception stretched to Volkswagen headquarters.

And the smoking gun - or, errr, engine:

If any vehicle failed to meet emissions targets, a team of engineers from Volkswagen headquarters or luxury brand Audi’s base in Ingolstadt was flown in, the person said. After the group had tinkered with the vehicle for about a week, the car would then pass the test. VW had no engineers in the U.S. able to create the mechanism that cheated on the test or who could fix emissions problems, according to two other people.

This allowed the engineers to view the diagnostic information from the vehicle that was just tested to find ways of identifying when a test is taking place (oh, they didn't move the steering wheel at all while it was operated at 55 MPH), and also exactly how the vehicle was tested (what speeds it was operated at, etc) and thus they could optimally tweak the cheat to pass the test. It sounds like a pretty stupid method of testing to me.

One of the interesting things in doing it that way is even though those engineers might be breaking US law, since they aren't US citizens and got their butts back to Germany afterwards, it would make it extremely difficult to prosecute or even investigate and interview them.


Comment Whistleblowing (Score 5, Interesting) 569

One thing is for certain. No whistles were blown. Which is pretty impressive considering how long this has been going on and the extent of who all must have been in the know. I don't think this falls into the category of one software developer tweaking some parameters. I mean the engine was designed without a urea injection system in the first place, which is pretty much necessary to make a diesel engine conform to emissions standards that strict. So it sure leans towards the falsification pathway going way, way back.

Comment Re:Does this at least mean.... (Score 2) 301

My understanding is that the car actually does have better emissions in a certain "mode", which is enabled when various parameters hint that testing is being performed (IE the car is on a dynamo). Inputs cited are steering changes (if the steering wheel doesn't budge as you gradually go from 0 to 65 MPH, then it's probably on a dynamo), barometric changes (sensitive to even the slightest changes in elevation or as airspeed increases, which, again, are static when on a dynamo), etc. That is one of the reasons the car gets better MPG in real world than advertised, because it produces more HP and drives better when the emissions controls are turned off.

Comment The cycle of a product (Score 2) 229

It's interesting watching so many software products (and OSes, etc) go through the same cycle. A new player comes on the scene and innovates or simply does things better than the competitors, they become popular and get a decent install base, they stagnate and / or bloat, their usefulness and effectiveness drops, and then often times they turn Evil as a last ditch effort is made to monetize what is left of their users.

I really liked AVG at one time. For me it was the free go-to antivirus product, and it really did a better job removing the malware of the day when it was at its peak (oh, around 8-10 years ago).

Comment Irving is currently a Muslim battlezone (Score 1) 657

Perhaps you remember news stories of a town in Texas (Irving, in fact) that had to pass local legislation to prohibit sharia courts that were settling various business and personal disputes of Muslims.

If you take things in context here, there is a political, religious and PR battle waging in this city between the government and Muslims. The Muslims lost round 1, rightly so, by not be allowed to set up their own government systems in parallel to those of the United States or State of Texas. They won round 2 today, with Obama officially taking the side of the youth.

I was modded down in a comment to a previous story, but I will say at least this much again. No one has seen the device. I tried finding pictures, but to my knowledge none have been posted. It was in a small metal briefcase like box (for holding pencils) with a steel cable around it. Since no one here actually knows the physical appearance or context of how it was presented and perceived, none of us can make any kind of informed opinion on whether or not teachers were justified in having any concerns of what he brought to school.

His father has had run ins of various sorts with the local governments regarding Islam. It did not say what those were (if they were related to the Sharia law deal or what).

Comment The real concern (Score 0) 956

The real concern here is whether this was done as a social experiment, or some kind of test of equality or racial discrimination, to see what kind of response would occur if something "shady looking" was brought to school. I haven't found any pictures of the actual device, but it was in one of those metal pencil cases that looks like a briefcase with a handle, and it had a steel cable around it. About half way through the video the boy says "I closed it with a cable because I didn't want to lock it to make it seem like a threat so I used a simple cable so it wouldn't look that much suspicious". The very fact that the boy admitted to the fact that he himself had concerns about exactly how suspicious it appeared gives me the impression that he (and / or his parents or whomever) were trying to walk the finest line possible on making this benign from a legal standpoint (it wasn't locked, and wasn't dangerous at the end of the day), but still raise questions and some amount of suspicion as to what all may be inside.

It sounds like that is what the police are considering - was done to "test" the response of schools and police by walking that thin line between innocence and baiting.

A far, far more extreme example would be to have 9th graders of various races point a fake gun at police offices to see which ones get shot. Of course that is taking the example to the extreme, but I'm curious if that was the kind of thing that this "clock" was about. However, since pictures of the exact thing he brought to school are not available, none of us can even form an opinion for ourselves "does this look like something that a reasonable person would be concerned about in this context".

And finally, I want to point out that taking a clock's innards out of its original plastic case, and sticking it in some other enclosure, is not "inventing" or "making". It's cool stuff and educational (I loved taking things like that apart as a kid), but it's not actually making a clock.

Comment Re:Acoustic is better (Score 2) 38

Obviously you didn't read the research paper I referenced.

In this paper we argue that a labeled training sample requirement is unnecessary
for an attacker. This implies keyboard emanation attacks are more serious than
previous work suggests.

We built a prototype that can bootstrap the recognizer from about 10 minutes of
English text typing, using about 30 minutes of computation on a desktop computer
with a Pentium IV 3.0G CPU and 1GB of memory. After the bootstrap step, it
could recognize language-independent keystrokes in real time, including random
keystrokes occurring in passwords, with an accuracy rate of about 90%.

Of course sound can be recorded and thus post-processed whenever a large enough corpus has been captured. Thus you could type for small 1 minute periods at a time over the course of days, and once 10 minutes worth of recordings had been captured from that specific keyboard, it could be analyzed, and after that interpreted in real-time if desired.

Comment Acoustic is better (Score 5, Interesting) 38

This is an interesting although convoluted method to determine what is being typed. It has already been demonstrated that the acoustics from typing can be used to identify what is being typed. Most smart watches have microphones. It makes more sense to use the microphone right next to the keyboard to capture very high quality audio so close to the source and then analyze it acoustically to determine what was typed (which captures data from BOTH hands). It will also work if the user takes off their watch and lays it nearby.

Comment Bad in any case (Score 4, Insightful) 150

Regardless of the design of the connector, having the reset button directly above the port is a bad design. It's simply too easy to hit it with your thumb just plugging in or removing a cable. I suppose holding it down for several seconds resets to factory, which is what happens when using cables with the boot. Still, regardless of that more severe problem, it was a bad design in the first place.

Comment Re:Comcast giveth and I taketh away (Score 4, Informative) 229

Netflix is always dropping content to rotate in content they didn't already have (note I didn't say "new" content). They've always operated this way. The other option is to charge more and have a larger selection. I think I'm with most people in saying I would rather them rotate in new content than have a totally static library of movies after they hit the limit of what they can afford to license.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen