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Comment: Control Systems Security: #1 Truth (Score 1) 103

by Shoten (#49100189) Attached to: Also Hackable: Drive-Through Car Washes

Billy Rios sums things up interestingly with this sentence:

"If [a hacker] shuts off a heater, it's not so bad. But if there are moving parts, they're totally going to hurt [someone] and do damage," says Rios, founder of Laconicly.

The trick with control systems...which is what the computers controlling this car wash that logical actions result in kinetic effects. And you can't reboot physics, or restore solid objects from backup.

Comment: Heh (Score 1) 134

by Shoten (#49100151) Attached to: Homeland Security Urges Lenovo Customers To Remove Superfish

I think it's interesting that Lenovo posts not just the "Automatic Removal Tool," but also the source code to the tool. What I want to know is this: has anyone compiled it, and managed to get their compile options/environment such that they came up with a binary that matches the downloadable tool?

Comment: Re:Why don't they use a single rotor? (Score 3, Interesting) 129

by Shoten (#49089503) Attached to: Delivery Drones: More Feasible If They Come By Truck

While I agree with people saying the whole drone thing was just a Bezos PR stunt, out of interest, wouldn't it be better to use a single rotor helicopter rather than an octocopter for these sorts of tasks? I remember reading how a lot of the energy in a multi-rotor is wasted accelerating and braking the motors to control pitch and attitude, and this leads to substantial conversion losses and the need to oversize everything. Surely at eight rotors, the cost of adding a swash plate control would be worth it for the efficiency gains, especially in a commercial setting.

Here's an experiment that will illustrate the answer for you.

Buy a Parrot drone, and fly it. See how easy it is? It's very stable, and quite straightforward.

Now, buy a small but decent (i.e., big enough that it could carry something like a GoPro) R/C helicopter. Try and take off; don't forget to wear eye protection. Tally up how many times you have to go back to the shop for new rotors and other parts, as you crash again and again. Or, in the alternative, just watch the Mythbusters episode where they take on the myth of a helicopter crashing because its rotor blades were destabilized with a little bit of tape, so you can watch them go through this exact process.

And yes, it's technically possible to add technology to single-rotor design systems to automate the corrective actions to keep them stable. But by using an octocopter, you can do it a lot more cheaply and more easily.

Comment: Re:"risks serious damage to the system" (Score 1) 138

by Shoten (#49066795) Attached to: NVidia Puts the Kibosh On Overclocking of GTX 900M Series

I'm trying to figure out how a user could possibly *be* responsible when it comes to overclocking something in a notebook.

With a desktop, you've got a lot of variables that aren't just within the end-user's ability to assess, but actually entirely within their ability to assess and control. You've got thermal readings, understanding of fan speed, placement of cables and other things that affect airflow management, and the ability to choose just how much (and what form of) cooling is in the case to begin with. You can try things, see the impact of them on the environment inside the machine, and adjust accordingly. Hell, if you want to, you can use a laser thermometer to measure the temperatures in the case on a centimeter-by-centimeter basis to see where the hotspots are so that you can fix them.

In a laptop, you might have some temperature sensors, but you're not exactly sure where they are. You can get some idea of where the heat is building up by feeling the outside of the case, but you can't be sure how much of the actual heat is making it out at that point. You can't change the respond to anything that seems awry, and you can't really assess the temperatures that well to begin with. So what OC, and hope for the best. And, as other posters have pointed out, some of those who hope for the best won't take personal responsibility for the risk they brought upon themselves when it goes wrong, and that's when we would start seeing Slashdot articles with names like "Latest NVidia mobile chipset catching fire spontaneously!" And that's not good for consumers nor is it good for NVidia.

Comment: The button isn't the problem (Score 4, Insightful) 327

by Shoten (#49034207) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Panic Button a Very Young Child Can Use

You're asking for a kind of button that will make it possible to rely upon a 2-year-old child as a caretaker. This is not a technology problem, and unless someone finds a way to accelerate human development of children to an alarming rate, it's not a solvable one either. And I have to say, what you're proposing seems like an inherently risky your wife and child both. Your wife runs the risk of your not being alerted, and I can't even guess what it would do to a child to have that kind of responsibility, especially if she doesn't hit the button for whatever reason, and ends up haunted by that for the rest of your life.

Comment: Re:Uber is the problem! Let's ban it! (Score 3, Informative) 91

by Shoten (#48997413) Attached to: Uber Will Add Panic Button and Location/Journey Sharing In India

So, a little bit of reality here...

In India, what we take for granted as a "background check" is actually not possible. While here in the US we have a massive database called NCIC (which is really the name of the organization that runs it, but everyone calls it NCIC anyways) there's not really such a clearinghouse in India. The individual municipalities keep their own records...often on paper...about past crimes, but there's no centralized source where you can go and check. As a result, "background checks" basically don't exist, because they are exercises in futility unless you're looking to check on a specific event related to a person.

Now, to be 100% accurate, I will say that India did just recently create a centralized database, a year ago I believe. But the database is barely getting any input at all at this point. And on top of that, fake documentation is really easy to obtain in India, there's a lot of corruption...there's a larger systemic issue with just being able to take someone's unique identifying information and do a "background check" to make sure they haven't been convicted of raping a whole school or something in the past.

I've run into this before, with regard to situations where certain kinds of business processes and information handling couldn't be outsourced because of regulatory requirements for background checks, but I also found an interesting analysis that is in the context of this situation with Uber:

Comment: Re:Once more (Score 3, Insightful) 100

by Shoten (#48888125) Attached to: U.S. Gas Stations Vulnerable To Internet Attacks

We have to ask why everything NEEDS to be internet connected. A local connection to the sensors will allow the station to determine when they need to refill said tanks. Not much point in putting it out there on the big scary internet. :D

Reason for these to be Internet-connected? chain. Next time you go get a fill-up, go interact with the guy inside the gas station and then ask yourself, "Do I think this guy could operate a control system and get a reading from a serial interface on a timely fashion so that the regional product distribution centers know when they need to schedule a fuel delivery?" At most gas stations I've been to, they can't even keep those little paper towels filled in the dispensers outside. (You know, the ones you need to wipe the oil off your dipstick? Okay, that looks dirty when I type it out...but I digress.)

On the other hand, if you connect these to the Internet, then an automated system can poll them periodically, automatically, and a lot of the workflow around keeping gas stations provisioned with fuel gets simplified and automated. You also get better metrics about consumption, which in turn allows for better forecasting so the local depots can, themselves, make sure they don't run dry. (There's a much, much longer lead time for getting a product tanker to drop off fuel than there is for a gas truck to bring fuel to a gas station.)

That said, these should be configured NOT to listen to requests from outside a certain subset of network ranges. Having them listen to the open Internet is, frankly, fucking stupid.

Comment: Re:you can't print 3D books! (Score 1) 98

by Shoten (#48849913) Attached to: Shanghai Company 3D Prints 6-Story Apartment Building and Villa

But as there is no specific national standard for 3D printing architecture, we need to revise and improve such a standard for the future.

and how will that standard be published and disseminated?

2D printers sigh with relief, they are still relevant

Only until they find out how crap Chinese building standards are!

Comment: Re: Fix the damn markup (Score 1) 784

by Shoten (#48829261) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

Guess your one of those smarter than the rest of the world techs, nerds etc. A colleague confining with others on his life matters and you want to bust balls about how tech Davy you are. 15 maybe? Damn man grow up.

The irony is strong with this one.

Good sir, I would like to resurrect an old online tradition by awarding you one million internets.

Comment: Re:Huh? (Score 1) 134

by Shoten (#48780795) Attached to: For the First Time In 3 Years, Investments In Renewable Energy Increased

I don't get it, wouldn't lower oil prices reduce demand for renewable energy, thus reducing investment?

Very little power is generated using oil. The exceptions are places like the Bahamas, where coal isn't really accessible and it's easier to get oil on the island...but in those cases, there's really no effect from lower oil prices anyways because oil/diesel are incredibly expensive when compared to pretty much every other kind of generation. Also, oil only just recently dropped in price; planned projects related to the study here would have been planned out two years earlier (at the earliest) and capitalized a year before when budgets were worked out. It's odd, because the report talks about "industry concerns" related to this...but I work in the power industry, and nobody there even notices that the cost of oil has been low. So I don't understand who these analysts are speaking to, or how much knowledge they really have of the power sector.

What's behind this is another thing that the analysts totally don't see...the challenges of managing generation from renewables, and the fact that power companies have been able to make strides towards this. Generation and load (sink) have to be in balance...otherwise you get variations in both voltage and frequency. This has been a hard enough challenge to manage when the utilities had solid control over generation (they have very little control over load, and what control they do have is caused by "load shedding," whereby they cause a small, localized blackout). But when you add renewables, they lose control over some of their generation output as well...the wind picks up/dies down, clouds cover (or uncover) solar panels, etc. This was further validated as power companies started solar and wind projects, and saw the impact that came from them. The problem can be managed, but it requires more analytic systems (Transmission Management Systems, Distribution Management Systems, and Advanced Distribution Mangement Systems), AMI meters, and a host of other things that are referred to as "WAMPAC," or "Wide Area Monitoring, Protection and Control". These technologies have been developing over the years, and they all take a lot of time and money to implement. That said, power companies have been busily rolling them out, and now a lot of them are far better-prepared to absorb the fluctuations incurred by renewable energy sources.

So, in short:
-Renewable projects fired up some years ago
-They made it harder to manage the grid, as is
-Power companies, now having solid hard information as to how renewables impact their own piece of the grid, set about dealing with the problem with new tech
-Now they're better-prepared to roll out more renewable generation capacity

Comment: Re:Don't put cameras on everything (Score 1) 138

by Shoten (#48766079) Attached to: Connected Gun Lets Anyone Watch What Or Who You Are Shooting

Maybe because of the lack of rifle able to aim from a mile afar and, at the same time, broadcasting it live to the Internet.

No, because they had to enter the building in order to see their targets. They forced one of the employees to surrender her pass-code in order to enter the offices.

Um, no.

They chose to enter the building in order to attack their targets. Because when you're using automatic weapons against multiple unarmed, unarmored targets (one person was armed, but all you have to do is shoot him as early on in the process and the dynamic stays the same) you want to have them in an enclosed area so that you can keep them corralled while you slaughter them. Simple truth, dark as it may be. But they had an option. In fact, they exercised an alternate option in the case of the first person they encountered...whom they ambushed in the open when she went about her daily routine, so that she could be coerced into granting them access to the building in the first place.

But if your tactical options change...instead of an en masse shooting at close range using relatively inaccurate weapons, you can shoot at a distance...then you can change your tactics. The goal here is to incur fear (hence, "terror"ism) in a larger population. I live in DC, and remember what it was like when Malvo (that piece of shit) was shooting people at random. It would be way, way worse if there was video of it, and it would be even worse for their intended fear-target (the media) if they demonstrated that such death could come from out of the blue, anywhere. And if they don't start shooting everyone on the same day, then you get a strange challenge: Do I not go to work? If so, isn't that capitulation? For how long do I not go to work? If I don't go out at all, how can I do my job...but how do you protect me and my staff from snipers who can hit us from range in an urban setting? It sounds like a really awful, terrifying way to live...and with every subsequent shooting, the news cycle reboots and it gets on the front page.

Comment: Re:Don't put cameras on everything (Score 3, Insightful) 138

by Shoten (#48760321) Attached to: Connected Gun Lets Anyone Watch What Or Who You Are Shooting

Live-streaming of a rifle-scope? That sounds like death-porn. Who's the audience?

And what's next? Cameras installed in the bullets?

Despite the chill this technology gives me, I can see military applications (e.g., real-time mission-monitoring) but its use by consumers makes no sense to me.

That's what I was thinking...but with a chilling difference. Imagine if the shooters in the Paris attack had something like this, and chose to shoot their targets at distance, while producing videos they could later put up on YouTube? Not good...

Comment: Re:Someone please aware me: (Score 1) 303

by Shoten (#48749449) Attached to: FBI Says Search Warrants Not Needed To Use "Stingrays" In Public Places

How is this not, basically, wiretapping (for which a warrant would ordinarily be necessary)?

It's not wiretapping. The FBI says so. Apparently, the FBI is saying that any private citizen can just set up their own "stingrays" to intercept phone calls as long as they're in public places, and the FBI won't prosecute (at least, not with wiretapping laws). This makes sense.

This makes as much sense as waterboarding without consent not being a crime.

Oh, thank goodness it works that way...the entity that is subject to oversight can state that no oversight is needed. Cool!

Dear FBI: I don't need a permit to have a grenade launcher!

Comment: Re: Can shoot a person, can't take down a server (Score 2) 96

by Shoten (#48705977) Attached to: FBI Monitoring Hacking Targets For Retaliation

No, but the Natural Laws upon which Western political thought is based do give you the intrinsic right to self preservation, right up to terminating the threat.

But not in this context. If someone shoots you today, you can't go after them with a gun tomorrow after you get out of the hospital. These actions are not self-preservation at all, just retaliatory in nature. And that is clearly defined in both the explicit statutes and case law as a no-no.

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?