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Comment: Stop with the sending my data elsewhere (Score 1) 46

by RobinH (#49340841) Attached to: Dueling Home Automation Systems at SXSW (Video)

I've been doing home automation stuff on and off for about 10 years now. It seems like every new device in the past few years has to have a connection to the internet and be controlled through a web-connected app. In some ways I kind of understand this: so many people have a smartphone, and they already know how to get it online, so if you connect your "IoT" device to the internet then you kind of get your remote control for free.

However, the whole idea of broadcasting data from the inside of my house to some 3rd party server on the internet is such a crazy idea. I recently installed a whole home energy monitor (it monitors the incoming feed and a bunch of the main branch circuits). It does come with software that I was running on a local PC, but the main way that they recommend to use it is to sign up for an online service (around $2/month) and have it upload your data there. Since their software wasn't great, I was tempted to do that... for about 10 seconds. Do you realize how much personal information that would mean transmitting to a 3rd party?When your stove, microwave, dishwasher, and washer/dryer runs? No way! Looking at the data it's pretty easy to pinpoint when we're there and when we aren't. In the end, I opted to write my own logging and reporting software, and that gave me the ability to add some useful features, like emailing me if the backup sump pump turns on (meaning my main sump pump has stopped working for some reason). Still, most people just have to take what's offered, and I think that's pretty scary.

Also consider the nest thermostat, which has an occupancy sensor, or the Xbox 360 which has a camera that's reportedly "on" all the time looking at your living room. This isn't a good idea.

Comment: Re:From a simpler era (Score 1) 95

by RobinH (#49309149) Attached to: South Korea Begins To Deprecate ActiveX
To be fair, comparing ActiveX to Java is incorrect. The counterpart in the Java world of ActiveX is the "Java Applet" which, along with ActiveX, really needs to go away. Writing a self-hosted Java program is no different than a .NET program, and neither one are going away any time soon. JavaScript, however, only had one serious competitor: VBScript. JavaScript won. It's the best thing we have for rich client functionality, and it's not going away any time soon, even though, I think, HTML5 is going to absorb some of the heavy lifting that JavaScript is doing. Going forward it should all be JavaScript and browser makers need to take JavaScript sandboxing seriously.

Comment: Arduino has not boards in stock anyway (Score 1) 33

If you look at the Buy Arduino Boards section of the Arduino site, all the boards are out of stock except for a couple of LilyPads. Also, the UNO Rev3 on that site lists for 20 euros. If you go to AliExpress you can find a clone for $6 with free shipping, including a USB cable, and if you want you can also get a clone for $3 (with free shipping) if you're willing to trade the FTDI USB-serial chip for a CH340G chip. From comments online the latter works fine, it just requires a different driver, and a lot of people are figuring we shouldn't be supporting FTDI either after what they did when they made their drivers bricks clones of their own chips. That's just one board. In my experience, the difference between prices of Arduino Mega boards and the clones are even worse.

I get that we want to support the official organization and I own 2 or 3 official boards. However, the price difference is sometimes too much to ignore. I spend a good deal of my time writing Arduino-compatible software and releasing it for free under an open source license on the internet. Lots of people have downloaded it and use it, and I am happy to answer their questions and help them with their projects for free. I don't expect to get paid a dime for that. A lot of people are doing similar stuff and we're all contributing to one big Arduino ecosystem in our own way. The fact that there are clones is a *good* thing. It's only the fact that clone-makers are using the Arduino trademark that's wrong. Also, if they say Arduino-compatible, then I think that's OK. Some of you might be too young to remember the birth of the PC, but IBM made the PC and then the clone-makers came along and made a whole bunch of cheaper and better *IBM-compatible* PCs. Look where that lead us.

Comment: Re:Diamond Age (Score 2) 44

by RobinH (#49191157) Attached to: Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things
I thought immediately of that book as well. In fact, the "primer" referenced in the title is a book written for a little girl, and the man (uncle? grandfather?) who commissions the book tries to get the would-be author to consider what it means to be "subversive". This reminds me very much of the book in the summary... it is... subversive. (Maybe)

Comment: Re:How fast to charge. (Score 1) 426

by RobinH (#48794211) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show
This is pretty obviously meant to be a "second vehicle" aka "grocery getter". Our 5-person family has a minivan, plus a Ford Focus as a second vehicle, which I drive to work and to run errands but never take on long trips. I can't actually fit the whole family-of-five in the Focus, but it works as a second vehicle. This Bolt would also work exactly as well.

Comment: Re:If your decision is.... (Score 1) 512

by RobinH (#48768251) Attached to: Publications Divided On Self-Censorship After Terrorist Attack
This is an odd situation. This isn't a Streisand effect. The cartoons aren't information that they're trying to suppress, they're just viewed as offensive, the same way we would view cartoons of someone dismembering a baby as offensive. (Note that I would still support publication of any of those cartoons, even if I found them offensive.) If journalists wrote about the horrific things ISIS was doing and those journalists were attacked for criticizing ISIS then the proper response is to make sure that information gets out there. On the other hand, if I put up a sign pointed at my neighbor's house with (hand-drawn) pictures of dead babies and he over-reacted and shot me, I think he should be charged with murder, but I don't think the response from the neighborhood should be to put up more such signs. I'm pretty sure freedom of speech is about informing other people about stuff, not about yelling in someone's face continually when they've indicated they've long since stopped listening.

Comment: Re:Jeavon's Paradox (Score 2) 82

by RobinH (#48705591) Attached to: Pew Survey: Tech Increases Productivity, But Also Time Spent Working
Yeah, but it's backwards. We've been making individuals (even unskilled ones) much more productive, and total productivity is going up, but interestingly that's not driving higher demand for unskilled labor (since about the 70's). It does seem to be driving some demand for skilled labor. That plus deregulation is what's driving income inequality. I would have thought the Jevons paradox thing should be increasing demand for unskilled labor.

Comment: Already doing it some places (Score 2) 84

by RobinH (#48539099) Attached to: US Treasury Dept: Banks Should Block Tor Nodes
I setup a Raspberry Pi as a tor *relay* (not a tor exit node) just as a weekend project this year. Within a couple of days, we couldn't log into our bank (TD Canada Trust). I was able to log in by VPN'ing into my work PC. I took the tor relay offline, and within a couple of days I could log into my bank again from home. Both relays and exit node IPs are public knowledge, but I still think it's wrong to block relays.

RAM wasn't built in a day.