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Comment Re: What? (Score 1) 406

This isn't entirely true. While you ARE on a contract, the phone is 100% yours after the contract is up, thus it doesn't hold up to the "renting" the phone paradigm that you suggest. It's more of a finance than a rent. If the phone was rented, then no matter how long you had it, it would still belong to the carrier. Similar to the cable companies "renting' the cable modems to the users, you never own it if you cancel service, no matter how long you've had it. On the other hand, after a 2-year contract, the phone is mine to keep, I can get the SIM unlock code, and I can take it another provider, or sell it on the used market, or whatever I want with it. They don't ask for it back. Thus, it's not renting.

Submission + - A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane

Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender.

The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it’s the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through.

Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.

Comment Re:dot (Score 1) 166

Good luck with that. These systems are a platform for a very niche industry. They are programmed by very niche programmers in this industry. As a programmer of AMX and Crestron and Extron, it's a small market even when you include the fact that these are used in schools, corporate campuses, and governement. If the government engineered their own, and make their own platform, they would still need to have a big enough market to attract programmers to learn and implement these things.

Comment Re:Bin Laden Raid (Score 1) 166

The most someone would have been able to do is "maybe" hang up a call or something. While this might have been an inconvenience, it's not like the people on the ground need the white house watching them to complete their mission. The higher ups that were watching live might have been upset only because they got disconnected on their ring-side seat to their "reality tv show".

Comment Re:Not Normally Connected (Score 1) 166

I'm am also an AMX programmer (see my username), and I program Crestron as well (main competitor). While this is all new news to me as well, I can concur with the OP on several topics.

Firstly: AMX doesn't make hardware dedicated to government use. It's used in in lots of places, schools, homes, businesses, churches, government facilities and the like. The headline makes it sound like it's a defense contractor that did this. No excuse here, though, as a backdoor on anyones network is not good, but it's not good.

Secondly: AMX has taken strides for over the last 10 years to implement this small industries best security in the class of hardware they make. They ARE an engineering driven company, and I would be shocked if this was implemented for nefarious purposes over being a mistake.

Thirdly: I can also attest to the OP's comment, that the majority of these devices are being installed on air-gapped isolated networks that only connect to the AV gear located in a particular room. When they are attached to a larger network, or clients network, they are usually isolated on a seperate VLan dedicated to the AV gear and other controllers in other rooms/systems.

Forthly: This isn't a typical network appliance that many of you might be familiar with. It is an embedded controller, it doesn't access other computers or servers, it doesn't have hard drives, or the capabilities of a general purpose computer/server. It runs custom written code that communicates to A/V gear (projectors, monitors, audio DSP's, and video conference units, etc) to control them for the user from a custom GUI touch panel. They don't have access to data stores, or have sensitive information passing through them for any purposes. The most sensitive information that it might have that I can think of off the top of my head might be a phonebook list from a video conference device (names/contacts).

These units normally do not have internet access, so to access this backdoor, you would usually already have to have local network access anyway. While I'm not positive what this backdoor could allow a person to do, the most common/likely thing that could be done might be to wipe the existing programming or insert some extra commands to devices, which might play havoc with a system (turning it off in the middle of use, or turning it on by itself, or making it inoperable). I just don't see how it would allow actual real nefarious actions like accessing sensitive information or stealing secrets.

Because the other AV devices that these controllers interact with are only for control (many use simple RS232 serial) some telnet or other, there is really no danger, or possibility of using these backdoors to say, capture or evesdrop audio from the room, or spy on a video conferencing session, or "see" what is being displayed on a projector or monitor. The protocols of these devices are for control only, and do not actually transport this type of data on these connections. For instance, an AMX controlling a cisco VTC codec would be able to make calls, hang up calls, move cameras and other actions similar to the manufacturers control interface, but not actually "see" or "hear" the content of the video conferencing session. That's just not how it works, or what it's able to do.

I give AMX the benefit of the doubt on this one, while it was a mistake, and got magnified because of their installation in sensitive areas, the AMX team is good set of engineers. Thier aquisition by Harman might have changed things a little, but I still don't think this the security hole that most here are picturing. It's not like these things have access to data streams of an entire network passing through them like the Juniper switches we read about a few weeks ago that have backdoors.

Comment Re: Winamp (Score 1) 117

I used to use WinAmp for years to play my mp3 collection but have moved to MediaMonkey. I like media monkey better. Also has some nice features for DJ (including what they call DJ Mode). Making playlists is super easy (especially temporary ones when you just want songs to play in a certain order), as is searching through your archive of music. The interface is really flexible, but does take a little getting used to comming from winamp but not bad. I dont plan on going back, Ive found MediaMonkey to be better for everything I used WinAmp for.

Comment Re:Chase is doing it too (Score 1) 223

I ran into something similar with my Healthcare provider's website. I run Ghostery, Adblock and Ublock in my browser and when I logged in, I couldn't perform the necessary tasks I needed to without turning off Ghostery's blocking.

It wasn't ads they were trying to use, it was several tracking/analytics (like Google and a couple others) that were forcing. When these analytics redirects were blocked, it broke their site.

I should also point out that this is for a service that I pay $1700 USD per month for. In case anyone is wondering, the Healthcare provider is Kaiser Permanente, which serves California.

Comment Re: Video Wall Controller (Score 2) 197

I program and setup pro av for a living and the video wall controller is the "best" option. Also the most expensive but they are highly flexible, especially the higher end ones.

Some of the well known ones to look at are "RGB Spectrum", "Christie Spyder", Extron QuantumView, And the the reigning king Jupiter Systems.

The best of these will let you define a virtual canvas as large as your wall is, and inputs are used as windows on that canvas, any layout you want. And presets are very nice and flexible and can allow for various view scenarios with the push of a button.

Comment Re:raspberry pi's + NAS with smb shares. (Score 1) 236

I don't mind the UI on it. Not sure when you last tried it or how much it's changed. Granted, setup is a little non-straight forward, but once it's all setup and going, using it is as easy to our family as any other media server, maybe more.

They've made repo(app) installation easier now, as you can just add one source/repo and install it, and it is a quick installer for almost all the major popular other app/repos that you need. Once you install it, you can just go through the list and click on any other app you want to install and it does it for you, and has apps like youtube, Genesis, iStreams, SALTS, Pheonix, and tons of others ready to go.

Alternate skins can make navigation more or less easy depending on the skin choice, but that is easily changed.

Comment Re:Plex, Kodi (XBMC), Netflix, and Sling (Score 1) 236

Sounds like what you have is working for you, but I would highly suggest upgrading your RasPI's to FireTV's or Firesticks running Kodi. I tried running my first build of Kodi on a RaspPI, and it was frustratingly slow and somewhat painful. The FireTV's and FireStick's run it much better and smoother. The FireTV's are quad-cores (the new ones are getting a speed bump), and the sticks are dual core (a bit slower but still usable). I haven't tried the newer RaspPI's that are faster now though, I was using the original version, and while it nice at first, the novelty wore off, and the speed/lag issue became frustrating real fast. Plus the FireSticks are like $40, which is less than the original RaspPI cost me.

Comment Kodi (aka XBMC) (Score 1) 236

We started using a FireTV sideloaded with Kodi (SPMC build to be specific). Have a network share from our server that stores our library and any downloaded media. Loving it. Have not used any of the actual apps on the FTV, just use it to host and run Kodi.

While I still subscribe to AT&T Uverse TV, we've been watching less and less TV on it and instead using our Kodi appliance more and more. Going to be picking up another FireTV or 2 for same purpose soon.

I highly recommend Kodi, and the FTV makes a great platform to run it from, quad core, very small form factor, low power draw, etc.

Comment Re:Employers don't pay for your fuel. (Score 1) 554

This has always been the bug in my side since seeing the charging spots at various companies that I contract at spring up several years ago as well, and this is the feeling I have as well.

The gas car has been a staple of nearly everyone for over 100yrs, and not one employer that I know of (or have seen) provides a free gas fillup service at work, provided by the employer. If you need gas, you fill up on the way to work, or the way from work, (or other time when it's most convenient). And billions of workers all over the country, have never had a problem with this, or even though that the employer should not only provide a local gas station in the parking lot, let alone provide it for FREE. Why should EV drivers be treated any different, it's their personal choice to buy that technology, you get the good and the bad with it, and have to deal with it. If it's not so convenient to stop on your way to/from work to charge up, then maybe you bought the wrong vehicle. People have had to take gas mileage into consideration for decades when purchasing a gas powered car, how is this responsibility now pushed on (and accepted by) the employers for EV?

It comes down to the old "Carrot and Stick" method of forcing social change in the face of lack of technology or social unacceptance for a political purpose. The government wants you to own an EV, no matter how much it doesn't make sense for a large portion of the population to own one. So what is done?
First the Carrot:
- Offer tax incentives and rebates to purchase the thing/item you want them too to make it artificially cheaper than it really is by spreading the total cost over the entire tax paying populace (ie: those who drive gas cars subsidize the purchase of those EV cars because gas cars don't get the tax credits/rebates).
- Offer reduced rates for electricity if you go along with their plan, everyone else get jacked to pay for electricity, and told to conserve during peak times, but when you by an EV, you get a discounted electric rate. Gas cars do not get discounted anything.
- Next, hey lets let EV drivers drive in the carpool lanes as another "carrot" to sweeten the deal. The gas drivers can sit in heavier traffic because the local municipalities haven't expanded regular lanes in years, all new freeway improvements just results in more carpool lanes an no more regular lanes, but gas drivers still have to deal with the 5+ years of freeway hell during construction of the new carpool lane. (note: here in the bay area, there is a section of I80 that literally has 2 carpool lanes and is the most congested freeway section in the bay area.
- Next, lets mandate that new building provide on-site charging stations to meet EPA requirements, forcing business owners to make it more convenient to charge an EV car... the gas guzzling environment destroyers will still need to leave early if they need gas on the way to work, but not our coveted EV drivers!
- Then building owners/employers offer FREE charging to EV owners because in some places, they aren't allowed to meter and charge for electricity, and they have to provide the spots.
- Because of logistics, the best spots, closest to the building get converted to EV parking/charging, so gas drivers can literally 'take a hike'.

These are all the carrots offered so far, what is worrying, is when the 'stick' part comes. When most of the parking lot is EV, and gas cars are not allowed to park in them. When extra taxes are tacked onto gas to drive the price higher and higher (like sin taxes for other items not in government favor). When more and more lanes of the freeway are converted to EV only lanes, causing more congestion on the gas car lanes. When extra registration taxes/penalties are levied on gas powered cars... or worse.

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Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb