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Cellphones

Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be 291

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes My LG Optimus F3Q was the lowest-end phone in the T-Mobile store, but a cheap phone is supposed to suck in specific ways that make you want to upgrade to a better model. This one is plagued with software bugs that have nothing to do with the cheap hardware, and thus lower one's confidence in the whole product line. Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Privacy

Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines? 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-that-hum dept.
mask.of.sanity writes Forensics and industry experts have cast doubt on an alleged National Security Agency capability to locate whistle blowers appearing in televised interviews based on how the captured background hum of electrical devices affects energy grids. Divining information from electrified wires is a known technique: Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is used to prove video and audio streams have not been tampered with, but experts weren't sure if the technology could be used to locate individuals.
Programming

Overeager Compilers Can Open Security Holes In Your Code 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
jfruh writes: "Creators of compilers are in an arms race to improve performance. But according to a presentation at this week's annual USENIX conference, those performance boosts can undermine your code's security. For instance, a compiler might find a subroutine that checks a huge bound of memory beyond what's allocated to the program, decide it's an error, and eliminate it from the compiled machine code — even though it's a necessary defense against buffer overflow attacks."

Comment: Golden Age is difficult to read (Score 1) 165

by Leo Sasquatch (#47207013) Attached to: Recommendations For Classic Superhero Comic Collections?
The art is often really basic, and the stories are often not up to much, because the writers weren't paid very much, so they just made up random stuff each month. Ooh, let's send Batman into space again, to fight crime on the planet of the Celery-heads.

You want to see what the medium can really do, go by author, not characters. Anything by Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Lost Girls, Necronomicon, Marvelman), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Garth Ennis (Punisher, War Stories), Warren Ellis (late Stormwatch, early Authority, Nextwave), Grant Morrison (Animal Man, WE3, the Invisibles). These authors can all, on a good day, push the boundaries of the medium.

The Golden Age is useful to understand some of the later parodies and homages. You need to read some very early Batman with the Bill Finger/Dick Sprang artwork to appreciate the beautiful pastiche in the 4th season episode of the animated Batman. You need to read some 50's Superman/Superboy to get the whole gist of Alan Moore's run on Supreme. The Silver Age is where comics start to get properly readable - the socially relevant Green Lanterns of the early 70's where Speedy does heroin, or the gorgeously gothic Neal Adams/Dick Giordano early 70's Batman. Before that there's a bit too much Bat-Mite, Mr Myxyzptlk and Streaky the Supercat for my liking.
Media

Virtual DVDs, Revisited 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-virtual-laserdiscs dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "In March I asked why Netflix doesn't offer their rental DVD service in 'virtual DVD' form -- where you can 'check out' a fixed number of 'virtual DVDs' per month, just as you would with their physical DVDs by mail, but by accessing the 'virtual DVDs' in streaming format so that you could watch them on a phone or a tablet or a laptop without a DVD drive. My argument was that this is an interesting, non-trivial question, because it seems Netflix and (by proxy) the studios are leaving cash on the table by not offering this as an option to DVD-challenged users. I thought some commenters' responses raised questions that were worth delving into further." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Security

Flaws In Popular Solar Power Management Platform Could Crash the Grid 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the there-goes-the-sun dept.
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "Criminals could potentially cause black-outs and mess with power grid configurations by exploiting flaws in a popular solar panel management system used by thousands of homes and businesses. The threat is substantial because, as the company boasts, its eponymous management system runs globally on roughly 229,300 solar plants that typically pump out 566TWh of electrical energy."

Comment: How terrible (Score 2, Insightful) 259

by Leo Sasquatch (#46844889) Attached to: Hulu Blocks VPN Users
I mean, it's not as if there's any other sites on the net where you can get streaming video, or canned video, or torrents, or people sharing their favourite shows.

It's not like it takes about 5 mouse-clicks to find an alternate source for practically anything. No, Hulu clearly have everyone completely over a barrel and we must just do everything they say if we're to be allowed to consume their entertainment the way they want us to.
DRM

How Much Data Plan Bandwidth Is Wasted By DRM? 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the phoning-home-adds-up dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "If you watch a movie or TV show (legally) on your mobile device while away from your home network, it's usually by streaming it on a data plan. This consumes an enormous amount of a scarce resource (data bundled with your cell phone provider's data plan), most of it unnecessarily, since many of those users could have downloaded the movie in advance on their home broadband connection — if it weren't for pointless DRM restrictions." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Comment: Re:It's the conversation, (Score 1) 367

by zotz (#46598709) Attached to: More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

Second, I really wonder how they defined a cell phone as being involved in an accident. Did they just record any accident where a phone was someplace visible to the driver? Did they record any accident where a call was in progress? Did they try to determine if the call itself contributed to the accident? Did fault come into it? If you're parked talking on the phone and somebody rear-ends you, does that count as a phone-involved accident?

These stats might be really telling us that lots of cars have cell phones in them.

Ah, someone who thinks along the lines I do. The one I get here in the islands on US AM radio speaks of 1 in every X fatal accidents involves a pedestrian. (I think X=4)

So I say, right, so when a pedestrian jumps in front of a car causing teh driver to swerve and plunge into a deep roadside canal and die, are they counting that as a fatal accident involving a pedestrian? What about one where two cars collide head on and a pedestrian is "involved" as the only witness?

all the best,

drew

Comment: Re:DO NOTE (Score 2) 97

by zotz (#46242121) Attached to: Hyperlinking Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

This ruling only applies to copyrighted content that is legally and publicly available. Linking to content that is behind e.g. a paywall would constitute a copyright-infringement.

Wait, how can it be a problem to link to content *behind* a paywall. Either the person clicking the link will not be able to get to the link as the content is behind a paywall and they haven't paid, or, they have paid, have rights to the content, and can get to it by following the link. Is there some other possibility?

all the best,

drew

Security

ShapeShifter: Beatable, But We'll Hear More About It 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the unknown-sample dept.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "A California company called Shape Security claims that their network box can disable malware attacks, by using polymorphism to rewrite webpages before they are sent to the user's browser. Most programmers will immediately spot several ways that the system can be defeated, but it may still slow attackers down or divert them towards other targets." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Google

Bennett Haselton: Google+ To Gmail Controversy Missing the Point 244

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes "Google created controversy by announcing that Google+ users will now be able to send email to Gmail users even without having those Gmail users' email addresses. I think this debate misses the point, because it's unlikely to create a deluge of unsolicited email to Gmail users, as long as Google can throttle outgoing messages from Google+ users and terminate abusive accounts. The real controversy should be over the fact that Google+ users can search a public database of the names of all Gmail users in the first place. And limiting the ability of Google+ users to write to those Gmail accounts, won't do anything to address that." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Facebook

Should Facebook 'Likes' Count As Commercial Endorsements? 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-it-or-not dept.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Facebook settled out of court over displaying ads that told you which of your friends had 'liked' a product or service, and another lawsuit is currently pending over the use of minors' pictures specifically in similar ads. (Not to be confused with another recently filed lawsuit alleging that Facebook converts private messages into public 'likes'.) Google+ tried to limit its liability by only showing the faces of users over 18 when showing which friends 'like' a page. I'm all for more privacy for social networking users, and if it's true that Facebook has been silently marking users as publicly 'liking' a page because they mentioned the page in a private message, the plaintiff's lawyers ought to clean them out for that one. But in cases where you willingly and knowingly 'liked' a page, Facebook and Google+ ought to be able to tell that to your friends in advertisements, without being sued for it." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Data Storage

Neglect Causes Massive Loss of 'Irreplaceable' Research Data 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the store-those-magnets-over-there-by-the-old-hard-drives dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Research scientists could learn an important thing or two from computer scientists, according to a new study (abstract) showing that data underpinning even groundbreaking research tends to disappear over time. Researchers also disappear, though more slowly and only in terms of the email addresses and the other public contact methods that other scientists would normally use to contact them. Almost all the data supporting studies published during the past two years is still available, as are at least some of the researchers, according to a study published Dec. 19 in the journal Current Biology. The odds that supporting data is still available for studies published between 2 years and 22 years ago drops 17 percent every year after the first two. The odds of finding a working email address for the first, last or corresponding author of a paper also dropped 7 percent per year, according to the study, which examined the state of data from 516 studies between 2 years and 22 years old. Having data available from an original study is critical for other scientists wanting to confirm, replicate or build on previous research – goals that are core parts of the evolutionary, usually self-correcting dynamic of the scientific method on which nearly all modern research is based. No matter how invested in their own work, scientists appear to be 'poor stewards' of their own work, the study concluded."

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