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Hardware Hacking

+ - Chips Embracing Compute Errors Use 97% Less Power->

Submitted by
Lumenary7204 writes "In an article that seems a bit out of place for a financial magazine (Forbes), Jon Fahey writes that Krishna Palem, a researcher at Rice University, has determined that logic circuits that are "allowed to get things wrong" from time-to-time can use as much as 96.7 percent less power than conventional "always-get-it-right" Boolean logic circuits. The circuits make use of a concept known as probabilistic logic, and have the potential of resulting in devices such as cell phones that can go for weeks at a time on a single charge.

Palem says that "Errors are not bad things if you think about them the way we do." However, as anyone who remembers the 1994 Pentium FDIV fiasco knows, there probably aren't many people willing to cut their computing devices any slack when it comes to mission-critical calculations. Despite attempts by Intel to downplay the problem, it was eventually cornered into offering replacements for anyone owning the affected CPUs."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Apples and Oranges (No Pun Intended) (Score 1) 596

by Lumenary7204 (#26987073) Attached to: Microsoft Sees Linux As Bigger Competitor Than Apple

The Net Applications survey seems to be centered on desktops and personal-use devices only, while Microsoft's graphic conceivably includes OS deployment across all kinds of devices (desktops, servers, network appliances, etc.).

If you take servers into account (especially web servers and certain network appliances), aggregated Linux installations could very well top aggregated Apple OS product installations.

Also note that the Net Applications survey segregates Macs (presumably including MacOS System 9 and earlier along with OS X) and iPhones (which runs a modified Mac OS X called "iPhone OS"), whereas the Microsoft slide simply has a single "Apple" moniker.

It's an Apples v. Oranges comparison; don't read too much into it...

Comment: Re:How?? (Score 2, Insightful) 595

by Lumenary7204 (#26325165) Attached to: UK Police To Step Up Hacking of Home PCs
One would think that since we've been living in an Internet-connected society for a little over a decade (from a "Joe Average" standpoint) that people would no longer be that gullible. Alas, that isn't the case...

John Doe sees a tempting link in his email, or one served up in a web page a'la Phorm, and clicks on it. This then triggers the installation of "legalized" spyware which tracks the user's communications and browsing habits.

Amazing, the kind of tools and techniques that law enforcement and signals intelligence agencies are developing. Not that it would be hard: The botnet coders and operaters have already done all the hard work for them. Simply grab a sample of the 'bot and its controller software, and tweak it for your needs. Then, ring up the antivirus and security companies and have them modify their security applications to ignore the installed surveillance software.

Problem is, well-organized criminal organizations with the appropriate technical expertise are liable to discover the spyware anyway, and find a way to use it against the agencies responsible for its deployment (i.e., to send falsified "evidence" of their activities).

Not only that, it makes you wonder why governments blow huge amounts of cash on such technological "solutions" when the cybercooks can do the job for them for (essentially) almost nothing...

Comment: Re:In the name of "National Security"... (Score 1) 675

by Lumenary7204 (#26323711) Attached to: Amtrak Photo Contestant Arrested By Amtrak Police

You're somewhat confused. There is a collection of UK constitutional law, though it is in multiple documents. Part of that constitutional law is the Human Rights Act, which is actually distinctly relevant to the rights of individuals and how officialdom may deal with them. (The details do vary from the US, but to claim that there is no constitution or protections is factually incorrect.)

While I will concede that is indeed the case (the UK is very often referred to as a "constitutional monarchy" in political science classes), there does not seem to be an overriding "uberdocument" in the UK analogous to the US Constitution that sets an equally high standard (by comparison) against modification and/or dilution.

In the US, the barriers to amending the Constitution are quite strong. An Amendment may be proposed by agreement among 2/3 of both Legislative Houses (the House of Representatives and the Senate) or by agreement among 2/3 of the legislatures of the individual States, but ratification of said Amendment requires agreement among 3/4 of the State legislatures or agreement among 3/4 of the Constitutional Conventions held by each State to decide the matter. Quite a tall order, given our current political climate in the US...

By contrast, it seems that the barriers to the modification or dilution of ordinances within the collected body of "constitutional" law in the UK are much lower.

Comment: Relevance of the Constitution (Score 1) 675

by Lumenary7204 (#26322893) Attached to: Amtrak Photo Contestant Arrested By Amtrak Police
A constitution (or, at least, the US Constitution) will remain relevant for as long as people fight for its relevancy.

Any worthy constitution is more than just a bunch of laws: It is a collection of fundamental ideals, an encyclopedia of what it means to be a human being and a civilized nation, distilled to the core and set down for Posterity.

And while its laws may become outdated, the ideals represented by it and in it do not.

Comment: In the name of "National Security"... (Score 4, Informative) 675

by Lumenary7204 (#26322315) Attached to: Amtrak Photo Contestant Arrested By Amtrak Police
It's a shame how many of our rights are being curtailed in the name of "National Security".

As far as I've been able to ascertain from the article, Mr. Kerzic was standing in an area designated for use by the public. It does not appear to be a restricted area, and from what I can see from the photograph in the article, there are no signs warning against photography by the public.

However, as bad as we may think it is here in the United States (compared to the pre-9/11 world), things are much worse in the United Kingdom. The rights of the Individual in the UK are enshrined in Common Law (i.e., customary law passed down through the ages), and not explicitly delineated in any sort of constitutional document.

For example, in the US, we have a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right against self-incrimination. A recent court case implies that this right includes encryption keys: If a law enforcement agency impounds your laptop for analysis, but can't get anything out of it because the contents have been encrypted, too bad for them. Handing over the encryption key would be a form of self-incrimination, so you don't have to do it.

On the other hand, laws, ordinances, and Police reactions regarding individual freedoms can and often do change at a whim, depending on what is expedient at the time (8th paragraph, about half-way down). In addition, since the right against self-incrimination is based on Common Law, and not written as an explicit right, ordinances like the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act can easily curtail and eliminate such rights. As usual, some groups say that even these powers do not go far enough, invoking the familiar mantra of "National Security".

And these things are happening in two of the most "open and democratic" societies the world has ever seen...

And on a side-note, here's an interesting question: Who's standing in the "restricted" zone across the tracks taking the picture of the "public" train platform?

Comment: Re:Let governments handle SSL (Score 1) 171

by Lumenary7204 (#26310151) Attached to: Do the SSL Watchmen Watch Themselves?

You forget, many of the companies are limited or just plain monopolies. They don't have to care about reputation as they always know they're going to get paid.

One could argue that the telephone carrier industry as a whole falls into this category. AT&T may no longer be a monopoly vis-a-vis "Ma Bell". However, one could make a case that "Alltel + AT&T + Sprint + T-Mobile + Verizon" add up to a "collective" monopoly, or (more properly) a hegemony.

The government has some advantages as an issuer, it's huge, not going away soon, and bureaucracy helps keep the corruption away and eventually can be held accountable for what corruption there is as it's all public.

Gotta disagree on this one. Cases in point: Watergate, Iran-Contra, NSA/AT&T Room 641A (not to overuse the example), Coingate, Danngate, Rodgate... That's just a small list of US Federal and State scandals, from off the top of my head; an exhaustive list would fill many, many, many pages (did I say "many"?). The first three scandals listed all revolve around "national security" in some way, shape or form; the last three scandals mostly involve personal gain and prestige.

And while all scandals go public at some point (it's not a scandal if the public never finds out about it), the "accountability" factors do little to stem the tides of backroom dealing. Either way, governments often use "accountability and transparency" to justify actions taken in the name of "national security".

The threat of lawsuits hasn't been all that effective at reigning any of this in either.

Don't even get me started on tort reform in the US...

Private companies, especially big companies, can't be trusted...

That argument could go either way: On one hand, private companies in the US appear to lack a certain "trustworthiness" because they don't need to file quarterly and yearly financial performance statements with the SEC. On the other hand, private companies aren't bound to the "profit-NOW!!" whims of a large pool of shareholders, so they tend to take a longer view of things and operate in a more conservative fashion.

Public companies in the US are somewhat more transparent, because they are required by law to file quarterly and yearly earnings statements with the SEC. These statements are available to the general public, so any underhanded activities by public companies are more likely to be noticed. However, public companies are driven by necessity to take a shorter-term, more immediate view with regard to cashflow because their shareholders demand instant gratification.

Comment: Re:Let governments handle SSL (Score 4, Insightful) 171

by Lumenary7204 (#26308525) Attached to: Do the SSL Watchmen Watch Themselves?
The United States under the Clinton/Gore administration already tried something similar to this; five words spring to mind: "Clipper, Skipjack, and Key Escrow". (If you need a refresher, I suggest the book "Crypto" by Steven Levy.)

The **last** thing I want is for my government to be the entity that issues the requisite public/private key pairs to the private institutions and companies with whom I do business. My business is **my** business - and not the government's business - until a **legitimate** search warrant or indictment says otherwise. And even then, it's still **my** business.

As the article posting indicates, SSL is built around a Chain of Trust. People buy SSL certificates from the likes of VeriSign, Thawte, Equifax, etc., because they are well-known and (ostensibly) trustworthy organizations.

I, for one, do not entirely trust my government. I don't trust VeriSign and crew all that much, either, but their reputations are a strong motivation for them to do their jobs reasonably well, and provide products that perform as advertised. To do otherwise would damage their reputations, resulting in lost customers and weaker profit margins.

Most governments, on the other hand, don't care much about their reputations, and have little regard for profit margins (just look at the US Government's annual budget deficit). They therefore have no compunction against using excuses such as "national security" and "protect the children" to provide (at best) or mandate (at worst) inferior solutions to technological problems.

Admittedly, some companies - like AT&T, for instance - are so large and well-entrenched that they sometimes bow to the mandates of government, and little heed the damage done to their reputations because of it.

But most companies are not that large, and can ill afford to lose face in the marketplace. Reputation is their bread-and-butter, so they do what's in their own best interests, which may even coincide with their customers' best interests.

+ - Apple Applies for Patent on 'iGlove'-> 3

Submitted by
Lumenary7204 writes "The folks over at The Register have a quick blurb about Apple's latest patent application: This time, it's for a piece of clothing described as a "high tactility glove system" (el' Reg has already dubbed it the "iGlove"). While the last diagram in the article may have people quipping about certain anatomical functions and/or doctor exams (the image really is oddly disturbing), the purpose of the glove is quite simple: It has a conductive inner layer that allows people to use the multitouch features of their iPhones while keeping their respective digits warm and cozy."
Link to Original Source

+ - Nigerian Developer Sues OLPC Foundation->

Submitted by Lumenary7204
Lumenary7204 (706407) writes "According to the Boston Globe, Ade Oyegbola, founder of a Nigerian-based consulting firm called Lagos Analysis Corp., is suing the One Laptop Per Child Foundation in Nigeria for allegedly ripping off "his multilingual keyboard design." The Konyin keyboard is patented in Nigeria and contains punctuation used by many Nigerian languages. Oyegbola also plans to sue the OLPC Foundation in the United States for copyright infirngement unless it forks over royalties. He claims Nicholas Negroponte, of MIT Media Lab fame, purchased the keyboard under agreement to not reverse-engineer the device, replicated its design, then "made it [the software] open source for all the world to see."

I guess nobody would cash any of his checks here in the U.S., so he wants to cash some of ours..."

Link to Original Source

+ - Linux talks to AD natively with Likewise Open->

Submitted by Lumenary7204
Lumenary7204 (706407) writes "According to this blog entry over at ZDNet by Dana Blankenhorn, Likewise Software (formerly Centeris) has developed a product to allow Linux users and workstations to authenticate to Active Directory using RPC, Microsoft's ubiquitous native COM implementation. "Why not just use LDAP," you ask? Because according to Barry Crist, CEO of Likewise, Active Directory is so wrapped up in RPC code that it "would cost Microsoft pain to change, just as much as it would us..." More detailed information from Likewise Software."
Link to Original Source

+ - Internet2 100Gbps Fabric Complete->

Submitted by Lumenary7204
Lumenary7204 (706407) writes "Austin Modine atThe Register reports the Internet2 Consortium has completed upgrades that bring the research and education backbone to 100Gbps on each network segment. Each segment currently carries ten multiplexed 10Gbps connections, but additional wavelengths can be allocated on demand, bumping the potential aggregate bandwidth to 1Tbps or more. The enhanced Internet2 runs on Dynamic Circuit Network (DCN) technology and is being developed in conjunction with Level 3, Ciena and Juniper. Anticipated applications include the development of virtual surgery techniques and providing short- and long-term direct links to supercomputing facilities. No Halo 3, however..."
Link to Original Source

The reason computer chips are so small is computers don't eat much.