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Comment Re: Not replaced: serial and parallel ports. (Score 1) 271

In theory, FTDI's USB-UART chips can bitbang... but AFAIK, no windows, Linux, or osx drivers have any kind of API for using it on a computer. You have to program the bare metal directly using a microcontroller. The catch is that due to the way USB modes work, the max usable rate is about 1 mbps... and that assumes a lockstep transfer of data AT 1mbps with fairly precise timing using isochronous mode. If you want to sample the pins at arbitrary rates, the max usable rate is about 1/64th of that (using "control" mode)... maybe less.

In theory, a FTDI chip capable of native USB3.0 with interrupts tied to an external clock line could probably bitbang SCSI-1, but AFAIK, they haven't made such a chip yet.

Comment Re:What 'meaning'? (Score 1) 138

Long before they were creating special models for Black Friday, retailers like CompUSA and Circuit City were buying up laptops with known design flaws (like a model made with hard drives whose fucked-up firmware seemingly worked fine with FAT32, but would slowly mangle NTFS or EXT2... their excuse was that they never said it would work with anything besides the OS it shipped with (Windows 98, if I recall). Goddamn, I spent literally 3 weeks trying to figure out why Windows 2000 Pro would self-destruct within days every time I installed it on my Dad's new Black Friday laptop. When I found out the real reason, I was beyond livid. And it's a major reason why I now won't touch a Black Friday Sale laptop with a 10-foot dirty tetanus-infested pole, and will never trust the quality of HP's consumer-grade laptops again. I would have been totally fine with their offering the laptop at discounted prices IF they'd boldly disclosed on the box that the laptop was made with a hard drive that had defective firmware that would corrupt NTFS and EXT2... but they didn't. The mother fuckers just hoped that most people wouldn't notice.

Comment Re:Before a human walks on Mars... (Score 1) 285

I think you'd find that ironically, much of America's food actually COMES from areas that are technically desert (at least, food that's "out of season"). And most of it ends up as far away as Florida & New York.

Arizona farms notwithstanding, the above example mostly illustrates the growing irrelevance of local agriculture in the more urban parts of the US. Case in point: agriculture of any kind barely even exists anymore in South Florida. Oh... there are a few token nurseries growing things like palm trees, and a few acre-sized vacant lots with cattle grazing on them for tax purposes, but their economic value is now basically "zero" relative to county-wide aggregate economic activity. The moment the County Commission approves the owner's development plans, the cattle will be on a truck heading to a slaughterhouse 400 miles away, and the remaining palm trees will be sold off or just unceremoniously bulldozed.

The Broward County Fair and the Miami-Dade Fair eliminated their remaining agriculture-themed exhibits YEARS ago... and nobody really noticed or cared. And 5 years from now, Broward County probably won't HAVE a fairground LEFT (unless they move it to the Seminole Indian Reservation 50 miles west off I-75), because the current site is slated for development as the new central business district for Pembroke Pines, and the cranes went up a few months ago. Miami has a "Plan B" near Metrozoo ~15 miles south... and it's a damn good thing, because adjacent Florida International University has literally taken over half of what USED to be the fairgrounds over the past 10 years (and, I believe, has the unfettered right to take over the whole tract of land at some point within the next decade).

Comment Re:Before a human walks on Mars... (Score 3, Insightful) 285

Geothermal and hydroelectric energy aren't the panacea they were once thought to be, because large-scale use of either raises the risks of earthquakes. Just ask Iceland about its huge geothermal energy plant near Reykjavik, or ask China about earthquakes near the Three Gorges Dam. Smaller dams (say, up to approximately the size of Hoover Dam, or maybe even Aswan) don't seem to present much of a problem, but flooding an area the size of New Jersey increasingly seems like a really, really bad idea.

The fact is, nuclear power is the best and greenest sustainable source of power available to us today and for the foreseeable future. Most of its waste problems could be solved with breeder reactors (which act kind of like incinerators, and allow you to take large volumes of moderately-radioactive waste and transform it into much smaller volumes of intensely-radioactive waste).

Solar isn't viable for states like Florida. Sure, we have seemingly endless sun... but statistically, any given city in Florida is likely to have a major hurricane at least two or three times per century. And glass is notoriously hard to make hurricane-proof (impact-resistant glass provide *safety*, but if anything, it *increases* the likelihood of expensive repairs because it's even MORE expensive to replace if an impact shatters it). Thirty years ago, solar water heaters were literally ALL OVER THE PLACE in South Florida, especially in areas where pools were common. Thanks to Andrew, Charley, and Wilma, they're now practically nonexistent. And even IF you could harden them enough to convince any homeowners insurance policy to cover rooftop solar arrays, they STILL can't produce enough power to run a typical 3 to 5 ton central air conditioner for a single-family home, let alone the air conditioners required by a skyscraper.

Comment Re: unique id (Score 1) 214

I'm pretty sure that most of the "40 million" are sharing a SSN with somebody who died *years* ago, and that the number of people like the two women cited as an example is much, MUCH smaller.

I mean, for ${deity.name}'s sake, there are only ~300 million *AMERICANS*. If one in 8 Americans had SSN collisions with another living person, I can *guarantee* it wouldn't have taken until now to be newsworthy.

That said, the gov't really needs to add at least a digit or two. Just adding one digit & making every existing SSN end with "0" until 2025 (to allow a graceful transition where existing 9-digit numbers would have an easily-derived 10-digit value) would give them enough unique numbers to go a few centuries without ever reusing a number.

Comment Re: Way behind (Score 1) 90

As others have noted, Android's biggest performance problems come down to architectural compromises made *years* ago so Android could run (walk?) on 200Mhz devices with 480x320 displays and almost no RAM circa 2009. Just about everything Android does is PIO-based... and the closed nature of Qualcomm's chipsets means end users are still running on an ever-accelerating treadmill with every new device & version of Android just to have a working camera & GPS under the new (and 100% incompatible with binary .ko drivers) kernel every new version of Android inevitably demands.

Comment Re: Near monopoly?! (Score 1) 90

Correction: Qualcomm has a near-monopoly on SoCs capable of doing LTE on American mobile networks in all licensed bands without additional chips. If you want a single-chip 4+ core Android device that works with 100% support for all relevant bands & data modes on Verizon, Sprint, or even AT&T, you basically have one viable choice: Qualcomm.

Renesas had a competitive alternative chipset ~2 years ago, but the new owners seem to have no real interest in trying to compete with Qualcomm in the US anymore for top-shelf flagship-class device5 and AFAIK are only now interested in the throwaway low-end.

Comment Pure hype & FUD (Score 2) 52

SHA-1 hasn't been "defeated" -- at most, an attacker able to muster substantial computer resources *might* be able to discover a random binary file of random length that shares the same SHA-1 hash as something else.

In other words, there might be some denial-of-service potential if an attacker were able to forge the signature for an update file & trick a remote computer into replacing good files with nonworking ones, but that's pretty much *it* for the immediate future.

Should a new app use SHA-2? Of course. It's no harder to use, and bulletproof at this point. But there's no great urgency to replace SHA-1 in existing code at this point.

Comment Re:Making money off real names (Score 1) 232

And what's more valuable to an intelligence agency... someone with a neurotically-groomed token profile based on their "real" name, or someone with an extensive profile under a technically-fake name (a name that's practically a de-facto GUID because they use it in other parts of their daily lives)?

Comment Re:Same issue with Hurricane Evacuations (Score 1) 178

The ultimate nightmare scenario for the National Weather Service: a confirmed rain-wrapped EF0 tornado that touches down in Miami or Fort Lauderdale at 4pm & is clearly heading towards I-95. If they say nothing, the tornado is unlikely to kill anyone, because everyone will be driving slowly due to the torrential rain anyway. On the other hand, if they send out a warning that a tornado is about to cross I-95, some idiot is almost **guaranteed** to abandon his car, attempt to cross 4-6 lanes of traffic, and get run over (because it's still bumper-to-bumper 30-40mph traffic, but near-zero visibility). And probably trigger a 7-car pile-up in the process.

Comment Re:Why is is always the "IT Computer Expert"... (Score 1) 297

And if it's "automatic", almost by definition it's always online & thus vulnerable to a potentially WORSE (insofar as data recovery is concerned) mode of failure... encryption by ransomware.

Seriously. Name one... ONE... NAS or online backup solution that allows continuous adhoc writing, but acts like a virtual WORM filesystem and merely marks obsolete files as 'deleted' without actually deleting them, so that any attempt by ransomware to encrypt the files on the backup drive would simply fill up the drive until the ransomware crashed (and quite possibly provide an early warning of what it was up to).

In some ways, it feels like we've gone backwards over the past 20 years. Capacities have increased exponentially, but new hard drives seem to drop like flies compared to drives from 10-20 years ago. And often, they fail in creative ways that RAID (1, 5, 10, or whatever) can't save you from (golden example: OCZ's second-generation SSDs with Sandforce controllers that simultaneously omitted the supercapacitor needed to make sure the drive never lost power during writes (to save about a dollar per drive) AND disabled the multi-step safety measures Sandforce built into the default firmware (because it made the drives slow).

We're living in a golden age. All you need is gold. -- D.W. Robertson.