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Comment Re:The cost of external cognition (Score 2) 136

I think this is true. A lot of conversations now seem to involve people telling me about their new app, or their new pulse rate measurement thing, or all the intricate details of their cell phone contract. Seriously... I don't care... tell me a funny or interesting story but if you spent 98% of your time staring at your phone, what are the chances you have anything interesting to share other than a clickbait article or a funny cat video?

Comment And yet... (Score 3, Informative) 663

When I wanted to lose weight, I reduced the number of calories I was consuming, and I lost weight! Weird, it must be that I changed my "energy balance". Except I didn't change *what* I ate, just how much. I'm not saying it's easy, but if you eat fewer calories than you burn, as a general rule, you'll lose weight.

Comment Re:Already been done in China for a while (Score 1) 239

Well, I'm in Canada and you absolutely cannot connect anything to the grid unless it's cUL or CSA certified. That's on the 220/110 side at least. If you go through a CSA certified power adapter and come out at 12VDC, they don't really care. I know from experience in the US that things are a lot different.

Comment Re:It was trespassing so I shot it? (Score 1) 1197

Your analogy is falling apart. Even if they flew a drone into your house, discharging a firearm inside your house just makes a bad situation worse, when you could just throw a blanket over it at that point. A lot of people (police included) are just looking for an excuse to shoot something. Pathetic, really.

Comment Re:It was trespassing so I shot it? (Score 1) 1197

No, you obviously don't, and who would think it's a good idea to discharge a firearm in their home? The drywall isn't going to stop projectiles. The appropriate action if someone does that is still to call the police, and possibly throw a blanket over it, I guess. Since it's not airborne you could just walk up and disconnect the battery so it's hardly the same situation. A drone is dangerous to approach, and even more dangerous to shoot at. An R/C car is not dangerous to approach, and definitely more dangerous to shoot at. Plus you'd be destroying evidence. Better to pick it up and pull the battery, and call the police.

Comment Already been done in China for a while (Score 3, Informative) 239

I've been saying for a few years that if you just had a few solar panels in your back yard, and didn't want to go through the expense of all the inverter stuff, you could just use it to charge a small battery and power a DC air conditioner. That's because you generally want air conditioning at the same time that you have the most solar power. At the time, the only DC air conditioners available were for marine use, and so they were expensive. However, in the last year and a half I noticed a lot of DC air conditioners on the marker on AliExpress (in China). Some of them even come as a kit including solar panels. The difference here is that presumably the Sharp ones are UL and/or CSA certified, so you could use them in North America.

Honestly, some of the stuff on AliExpress is impressive for how cheap it is. You can buy 500W grid-tie inverters for a solar array for the $200 range. Unfortunately they only have a CE rating, so they're not OK for North America yet. In comparison you can spend 3 to 4 times that much here.

Comment It was trespassing so I shot it? (Score 1) 1197

If someone parked a car in your driveway and it had a dashboard camera, that doesn't give you the right to shoot at it with a shotgun. Plus there's the fact that shooting at a drone turns it from a not-very-dangerous object into a ballistic object (not to mention the projectile(s) you're shooting). A sane person would call the police rather than making a bad situation worse.

Comment Re:Common problem across industry (Score 3, Interesting) 85

It's sad but I fight the same battle almost every day regarding safety systems in factory automation. There are specific regulations and best practices that we have to follow in order to determine that a machine is safe for an operator to use, and it falls under the heading of "big E" Engineering, as in the type you need to have a license to certify. We put a lot of effort into making the machine both provably safe, but we also have to make it recover nicely from an abrupt shutdown if someone opens a guard door, etc. Everyone from management, to the engineering staff, to the operators themselves who use the equipment constantly gripe about how much effort we have to put into the safety systems, even when it's their own life that's at risk. Almost every discussion involves someone saying, "why can't we just tell people not to stick their hand in the machine?" The answer, of course, is that the rules are different for a machine that starts and stops automatically, than it would be, e.g., for a table saw or a drill press with an on/off switch. The rules are different precisely because people do stick their hands into machines that are stopped. Engineers are professionals who accept people as they are, not as we wish they could be.

Really we could solve the security problems in "IoT" devices by applying the same strict Engineering principles that we do to safety systems in factory automation. You would do this by functionally separating the part of the system responsible for security from the rest of the system, having certified parts that you can purchase that are rated to various industry best practice security standards, and then having a licensed professional engineer review and sign off on the design. Guess what though... it would cost more money. However, I believe there are certain products, where there's a risk to the public, that should be legislated to require this kind of certification.

Comment Re:A plea to fuck off. (Score 1) 365

This problem is with both "online" and "offline" password managers. Certainly I wouldn't use an online (i.e. website) password manager because it's a really juicy target sitting there connected to the internet. People can and will attack it, and at least one online password manager has been hacked. Offline password managers, such as KeePass, aren't as bad. It's all in a single encrypted database file, but you can store it on a home PC, a thumb drive, and in some backup location. The program allows very easy sync'ing between those files. Since the file only contains one person's passwords, it isn't as juicy of a target, and since it's not on an internet facing computer, the exposure is lower. An offline password manager is still a really good idea.

Comment Re:When California wanted a lottery... (Score 1) 217

When I looked little while ago (2004?), in the Detroit area the funding was about $6000/yr per student in the inner city and up to $13,000/yr in the suburbs around it. For that money you have to pay the teacher with benefits, a support staff (principle, VP, secretary, janitorial, music, school nurses/psychologists, IT, etc.) and then supplies, bussing, and pay for the construction, maintenance and utility costs on a rather large building. I agree it's not a steal but it's not unreasonable either.

Comment Re:When California wanted a lottery... (Score 3, Insightful) 217

Depending on what kind of full time job you had to give up, it could have cost upwards of $50,000 or $100,000 per year for you to educate your 2 kids, given the opportunity cost. Don't get me wrong, I can think of lots of *good* reasons to home school your kids, but saving money isn't one of them.

Comment Re:"Automatic" Weapon? (Score 2) 312

It seems odd to me that merely installing a solenoid on the trigger would cause it to be classified as "automatic" when in reality, it then falls upon the software (or the way it's wired) to determine if it's semi-auto or auto. It doesn't look like the software is written to work in a fully-automatic mode. I understand that they might charge him anyway, but I would also think he'd have a reasonable legal defense.

Comment There is no real security (Score 3, Interesting) 227

When I used to go to automotive plants, they'd search your bags and you weren't allowed to bring cameras in. Once everyone got a cell phone with a camera, they just gave up.

When we had our first kid (2008) they'd look at you a bit snarky if you had a cell phone in the hospital. By the time we had our third kid, there were medical interns texting in the surgical room (it was a C-section). Nobody batted an eye if you had a cell phone, though the signs were still up. In my doctor's office, he uses some kind of program to manage all the patient medical files, and there's a terminal (it's a Mac actually) in every examination room. He leaves it logged in even though there are theoretically steep penalties for violating patient confidentiality. Just looking at the screen you can see his whole schedule for the day. When he comes in, he doesn't have to type a password or anything to start entering data about my visit. Devices like insulin pumps are known to allow wireless connections without authentication, and even if there was authentication, let's face it, it's probably broken.

Not long ago I was doing searches for industrial equipment manufacturer names on Shodan and ended up connected to one of those big wind turbines, somewhere in the middle of the US. No authentication. It was a monitoring dashboard and I didn't poke around, just closed it, but there were suspicious links/buttons on there to access the industrial controls, such as the PLC.

There are so many vectors: web browsing, phishing, thumb drives and phones brought in from the outside, pwnies, wireless, executives taking laptops home or even to China, spoofed OS updates, hardware infected as the point of manufacturing, and those are just some of the ones we know about. There is no real security.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist