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Comment: Re:All payment systems are mobile (Score 2) 227

by JWSmythe (#49186527) Attached to: Will you be using a mobile payment system?

Years ago, I had to move about $2K between two banks every week. The banks were only about 3 blocks apart. If I wrote a check, it could be delayed by up to a week.

After a few weeks of that, I decided to just walk into the first bank, withdraw the cash, walk to the second bank and deposit it. Every single fucking time I did it, there was always some hassle.

On several occasions, I explained to both bank managers and various middle managers, why I was doing it (because they both sucked). Something would always get it hung up. What should have taken about 10 minutes total could take up to 2 hours.

They are both in the top 10 largest banks in the US. Because of their repeated incompetence, I will never willingly do business with again. I can go in there to take money away from them (legally, of course). I will never have an account with them again.

Comment: What's the key spacing? (Score 1) 55

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49178401) Attached to: A Versatile and Rugged MIDI Mini-Keyboard (Video)

Is the key spacing the same as a standard piano keyboard? If not, how does it deviate?

Can it, in combination with some particular, commonly-available, MIDI software package(s), be programmed to have the same touch characteristics and sound as a piano, harpsichord, etc.? If so, are the configurtation parameters to produce equivalent performance already available?

Comment: Re:It's not the PC microphone ... (Score 1) 94

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49177877) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Wireless Microphone For Stand-up Meetings?

Or bypass the problem completely by using a USB microphone. These digitize the audio right next to the microphone proper, with everything floating at the same voltage so nothing substantial is picked up betwen the air pressure sensor and the A-D converter.

Bluetooth headsets work great for this, too. Most current generation laptops already have the bluetooth central-role radio onboard. Or get a cheap low-profile bluetooth dongle.

Comment: It's not the PC microphone ... (Score 1) 94

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49177857) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Wireless Microphone For Stand-up Meetings?

4. PC/laptop microphones suck. I don't know why no one bothers to test them to the same level as your average cheap dumbphone speakerphone. They pick up all kinds of system electrical noise, ...

The problem usually isn't the microphone. It's the way it's wired (per the standard) and the way the desktop/laptop is powered.

PC microphones are wired UNbalanced: They have a signal and a ground wire, rather than the + and - signal wires and everything-but-desired-signal cancelation of the balanced wiring setups typical of professional microphones.

Laptops typically use power supplies that are not grounded, so they don't require a three-prong outlet. This usually ends up with the stray capacatance to BOTH sides of the line wiring capacitively coupling equally to the laptop "ground". That means the "ground" of the laptop is at half the line voltage - about 60 volts of AC (a rotten approximation of a sine wave plus lots of other junk it picked up at an assortment of frequencies). The capacitance is substantial - not enough to shock you if you touch the laptop and ground, but enough to feel a buzz if you rub your hand lightly across a "grounded" metallic part of the device.

Plug in the unblanced microphone and hold it, put the headset on your head, or just leave it sitting on the table. The "ground" is at 60V and you are driving maybe a couple MA of it down the shield wire. The voltage drop of that current (along with any other pickup) adds straight onto your audio input. The best microphone in the world will perform horribly if hooked up this way.

Try this: Unplug the laptop and let it run on battery. Notice how almost all of the noise disappears. You can also get rid of most of the noise by tying a decent ground onto the laptop. (Unfortunately, many meetings last longer than the laptop batteries...)

Plug in a VGA monitor with a three-prog power plug, which grounds the case of the laptop via the shield and the two hold-in screwd. I've done that without actually hooking up the monitor (which would have disabled my laptop screen) by adding a couple of the nuts scavenged from another DB connector as conductive spacers so the actual signal pins are not quite into the plug. And done this on a docking station, so the laptop headset was quieted when the laptop was docked, even though I used none of the docking station features except the power input.

Make a second cable with a three-prong plug to bring a ground up to the laptop. Green wire from the third pin to a screw into or clip onto such a chassis ground point.

Or bypass the problem completely by using a USB microphone. These digitize the audio right next to the microphone proper, with everything floating at the same voltage so nothing substantial is picked up betwen the air pressure sensor and the A-D converter.

Comment: Re:Why is Israel not part of the NNPT? (Score 1) 52

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49167501) Attached to: Interactive Edition of the Nuclear Notebook

Because they didn't sign it.

Saying: "everyone who has them except Israel is allowed to keep them" is just plain wrong.

Which just might be why they didn't sign on - and part of why "Israel has had a policy of opacity regarding its nuclear weapons program."

Some things to remember about the NNPT:
  - Not every country in the world is a signatory.
  - Even signatories didn't permanently give up their right to develop nuclear weapons: By the treaty's own terms (section X(1)), they can drop out on three month's notice:

Article X

1. Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

Comment: But it WILL dry some of them out... (Score 2) 187

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49167191) Attached to: World's First Lagoon Power Plants Unveiled In UK

Bonus points: it wont flood any place in land that is not actually flooded twice a day,

But, by retarding the tidal current, it WILL dry out part of the area currently intermittently wetted, and WILL keep continuously wet another part of it that is currently intermittently dried.

Comment: Wonder how they'll rate Global Warming discussions (Score 1) 375

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49162031) Attached to: Google Wants To Rank Websites Based On Facts Not Links

... when there is more than one version of the truth (conflicts, spin vs fact)... plus not all information is facts... philosophical questions may have more than one answer etc... so I am definitely curious to see how this works out.

I'm curious as well.

In particular, I wonder how they'll handle Global Warming / Climate Change discussions.

Then there's electoral politics, economics, Illegal immigration / undocumented migrants, ...

Comparing to a knowlege base presupposes that the knowledge base is full of truth. Filtering search results to exclude (or down-rate) anything at odds with the current paradigm is a recipe for hamstriging research, debate, and intellectual progress

  Ideas need to be supported or rejected based on evidence and logic, not whether they're orthodox.

Comment: Re:Or the malware might cover its tracks. (Score 1) 323

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49161967) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

I mean if they go to the trouble to do this why do it in a way that would be discoverable via jtag for other state actors. I mean if they go to the trouble to do this why do it in a way that would be discoverable via jtag for other state actors.

Because hacking the JTAG to hide malicious hacking of the software is a massive endeavor and a massive PITA.

Besides, if they built it into the original software they wouldn't NEED to hack the JTAG to hide it. The code would match the released version. (You'd have to reverse-engineer it to discover their back doors.)

Comment: Or the malware might cover its tracks. (Score 1) 323

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49158963) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

If you ask the drive to read out the whole flash.
The maybe the firmware would have to go to the platter to get the real image.

Or the malware could regenerate the un-attacked version.

For instance: If it's a patch that loads into an otherwise cleared-to-known-vallue region it can detect that region while reporting flash content and report the cleared value, instead. Add a couple other tiny regions where it saved (or alread knew) the previous contents where it "sank it's hooks" and you can't tell it's there from its replies to dump requests.

JTAG seems safer.

Yep. JTAG, in principle, could be corrupted. But it would require substantial hardware support that almost certainly isn't there (yet!)

Comment: Hashes can be useful. (Score 1) 323

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49158915) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

Which is why I always laugh my ass off at all these people who use PGP to sign things and put a hash on the same website you download it from ... look you can verify this file you downloaded from the website hasn't changed because theres no way anyone would be smart enough to update the hash as well!

That's why you SIGN the hash. Then only the public key needs to be published by a different route.

And it doesn't HURT to publish it on the web site as well: Then someone tampering by substituting a different public key sets off alarm bells when that differs from the public key obtained from another site or by another path. Blocking that makes man-in-the-middle more complex: The attacker has to have essentially total control of the path to the victim and be able to recognize and substitute the public key whenever it shows up. One slip-up and somebody may raise the alarm.

Meanwhile: Even if publishing hashes on the same site may not provide additional security against MITM, it DOES let you check the download wasnt corrupted in transit (in ways other than malicious substitution). With modern protocols that's less of a problem these days than it used to be, but a check would be comforting.

Comment: &is "teal" blue with greenish tinge or vice-ve (Score 1) 416

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49155217) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?

... blue and brown. Just now, I opened the Washington Post link on my 24" screen in a sunlit room, and it was clearly white and gold.

Though the sensations are vastly different, brown is really dark yellow. The underlying color of that part of this dress seems to be very near the perceptual boundary (probably just on the yellow side of it). This picture seems to have the dress in a non-obvious shadow, so when it is viewed by someone whose visual system doesn't adequately pick up the shadowing and compensate, it crosses the boundary and appears light brown rather than dark yellow.

Another perceptual oddity is that a very slight bluish tinge to white makes it appear "whiter than white", especially in sunlight or other strong lighting. (I suspect this works by mimicing the differential response of the various color sensors in the eye when exposed to very bright light, though blue may also "cancel out" a bit of the yellowing of aging cloth.) Laundry products up through the 1950s or so included "bluing", a mild blue dye for producing the effect. (It fell out of use when it was replaced by a fluorescent dye that reradated energy from ultraviolet as blue, making the cloth literally "brighter than white" {where "white" is defined as diffuse reflection of 100% of the incoming light}, and which, if mixed with detergent products, would stick to the cloth while the surficant was rinsed away.) I suspect some of the "blueish is brighter" effect is going on here.

When I view the picture straight-on on my LCD display, the light cloth on the upper part of the dress appears about white and the image appears somewhat washed out. Meanwhile the lower half has a bluish tinge. So I suspect the cloth is actually nearly-white with a bit of blue. (Viewed off-axis it's very blue, but the other colors are over-saturated and/or otherwise visibly off-color. So off-axis viewing makes it look more blue and this probably adds to the controversy.)

Another color-perception issue is "teal", a color between blue and green. There are paint formulations of this color that give the sensation of "distinctly blue with a greenish tinge" to some people and "distinctly green with a bluish tinge" to others, even under the same lighting and viewed from the same angle. (I'm in the "slightly-bluish-green" camp.)

The first place I encountered this was on the guitar of the filksinger Clif Flint. (On which he played _Unreality Warp_: "... I'm being followed by maroon shadows ..." B-) ) Apparently his fans occasionally had arguments about whether his guitar was blue or green, so he sometimes headed this off (or started it off on a more friendly levl) by commenting on the effect.

Comment: Re:do no evil (Score 2) 185

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49154693) Attached to: Google Taking Over New TLDs

Perhaps they should be asking for a ".google" gTLD, for that purpose, instead of trying to monopolize a generic identifier.

I was about to suggest the same, but with ".goog", to make it shorter. (Can't think of a less-than-three-letter symbol that points to them as strongly.)

(It's also their stock ticker symbol, so maybe it's not such a good idea - it could cause a land rush and litigation from all the other publicly traded companies.)

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