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Comment: Re:...letmegetthisstraight (Score 1) 62

by blincoln (#49094295) Attached to: Samsung Takes On Apple Pay By Acquiring Mobile Wallet Startup LoopPay

Yes, that's exactly right. I heard about this while it was still a Kickstarter-style project, and as soon as I realized that the "Loop" in the name was a reference to an induction loop, I immediately thought "well, I'll just build a larger loop, and hide that under the table the payment terminal is on, and wirelessly capture the raw track data from the card".

My second thought was "there's no way to be sure that a given customer is using the official app, or even the official hardware, so if even one bank legitimizes this, criminals are going to have a field day, because using a card-spoofing magnetic field generator will be 'normal'".

The best part is because it uses a magnetic field (instead of radio waves), there's (AFAIK) no feasible way to build a shield to limit the scope of that field. My understanding is that one could e.g. covertly install an induction loop around an entire building, and stand a reasonable chance of being able to capture all of the transactions sent via this system within that building.

The company behind it is super-sketchy, IMO. They alpha-tested the device by walking into random stores with a hidden camera and socially-engineered the salespeople into letting them "pay with [their] phone", AKA "use this total hack of a device to make a payment that could be completely unauthorized".

It's also not *guaranteed* to work. *Most* mag-stripe readers will apparently function even if no card is physically swiped, but some of them do require that a wheel be spun by the card physically swiping through the reader.

I'm beyond shocked that Visa got involved in this in a positive way (as opposed to shutting them down). The whole credit card payment model is based around salespeople being reasonably sure that the customer is paying with something that was genuinely issued by a bank. A LoopPay-style device completely circumvents that. There is no cryptographic protection as a countermeasure, like with EMV or NFC - the salespeople just have to take on faith that it's a legitimate account being used.

We already have two superior systems (NFC and EMV) being deployed. I'm completely baffled that LoopPay isn't being laughed out of business.

Comment: Re:From TFA (Score 1) 211

by blincoln (#48921241) Attached to: Serious Network Function Vulnerability Found In Glibc

If ping crashes, or even executes arbitrary commands because of a specially crafted command-line, it's not a security vulnerability.

That's a pretty sweeping statement to make. Most interesting security vulnerabilities (IMO) are the results of multiple smaller issues and/or design decisions that can be chained together.

For example, a lot (most?) of the Linux distributions I see have ping's SUID bit set, and it is owned by root. So, yes, ping executing arbitrary commands absolutely *can* be a security vulnerability, because I can potentially use it for local privilege escalation from non-privileged user to root.

Comment: Re:Stupid/Misleading Title (Score 1) 118

by blincoln (#48675757) Attached to: US Navy Sells 'Top Gun' Aircraft Carrier For One Penny

You can still take recyclables to a recycler and be paid for them. Most people don't consider it worth the effort for the amount of money they'll get in return, unless they're hobos and/or they have something valuable (like copper) to sell. I had some old steel bits and pieces that I carted down to a recycler a few months ago. I got about five dollars for all of it. I was happier with that arrangement than if the steel had ended up in a landfill, but most people wouldn't have been willing to spend a few hours collecting it, driving it to the recycler, etc.

Comment: Re:Heavier than air flight is impossible (Score 1) 350

by blincoln (#48176435) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

Zeppelins are pretty neat, but I can see why they didn't go into widespread use. Read the history of the two that the US Navy built in the early 20th century - basically flying aircraft carriers straight out of Crimson Skies. All that's left is a single fighter plane and some mangled metal scrap (both of which can be viewed at the Smithsonian) because zeppelins don't do well in windstorms :\.

Comment: Quite the meteoric rise (Score 1) 45

I find it quite amazing that you've not only been incredibly successful in the film industry, but that you've gone on to deep-sea research and plans for asteroid mining. What got you interested in moving into those fields, and was there anything other than money that enabled you to do so?
For example, you have a reputation for being able to improvise and make the most of limited resources - I am still in awe over the bridge set in Galaxy of Terror, which looks like it cost ten times the entire budget of that film. Would you say that was one of the reasons you were able to make Deepsea Challenge and the actual expedition that led up to it?

Comment: Re:Requires a very high speed camera (Score 5, Informative) 142

by blincoln (#47600149) Attached to: Extracting Audio From Visual Information

For some reason, the person who posted the article or the Slashdot editors linked to a bad knock-off video that removed 3/4 of the details instead of the actual researchers' video. The real video makes it clear that they can also get results from a standard DSLR 60 FPS video by taking advantage of the rolling shutter effect. There's a fidelity loss, but it's a lot better than I would have expected.

Comment: M-Theory and gravity (Score 2) 147

by blincoln (#47495577) Attached to: Can the Multiverse Be Tested Scientifically?

Ever since I read The Elegant Universe years ago, I've had a number of questions related to this (as I imagine many people have). This is the first time I've seen the topic discussed by professional scientists, though, as opposed to people like myself with a hobby interest in the subject or in science fiction (Alastair Reynolds makes use of it in one of the Revelation Space novels, for example).

For the most part, it seems like String/M-Theory is very difficult (at best) to test using technology we have access to at present. But because it includes the idea of gravity being a force which can travel between branes, it's seemed to me and a few friends of mine that this would definitely produce some interesting effects in the real world.

As the article discusses, there should be some subtle evidence of the effects of gravity from external sources on the large-scale structures of our own universe. I would think maybe even enough to at least partly explain "dark matter" and "dark energy", since those are basically the known matter in our universe behaving as if there were a lot more mass that we can't actually see (one set to hold relatively closely-spaced matter together, and the other to accelerate the expansion of the large-scale structures away from each other, if I understand correctly).

A simple flatland-style analogy for "dark energy" might be that our universe is a sheet of paper which is intersected by a universe which is wrapped around into a tube shape or a torus. The gravity of the mass in that second universe pulls objects in our universe toward it, so for the part of our universe in the "eye" of the tube, they tend to accelerate away from each other. That's a vast oversimplification, but I'm not a physicist :).

For "dark matter", the idea that's always stuck with me since reading The Elegant Universe is that maybe some/all of the most massive objects in our own universe - especially the black holes at the centers of galaxies - are caused by the same kind of cross-brane effect. If you have a bunch of matter clumping together in one brane/universe, and it exerts gravity which can cross into other branes, then it seems like it would create corresponding accretions of mass in other nearby branes. Basically, that what we perceive to be a roughly spherical/point object would effectively be the hyperdimensional equivalent of that same shape that would "pin" itself together across branes.

Where I see this as becoming testable (and I could be wrong - again, I'm not a physicist) is that if this were the case, there should be examples of anomalous astrophysical objects and events, where the mass we observe does not line up with effects we also observe. For example, a stable neutron star suddenly flashing into a black hole when it passes too close (hyperdimensionally, of course) to a large mass in another brane. Another example might be a star or planet whose mass can't be reconciled with its observed size - e.g. maybe there is a planet the size of our moon, but which exerts gravity as if it were made entirely out of a material ten times as dense as uranium.

I know that in the context of our own universe/brane, there's no way to pull matter out of a black hole (other than Hawking radiation), but assuming the "hyperdimensional singularity"-type thing I described above is accurate, would it be possible for the cross-brane components to separate (since they wouldn't actually be touching, just exerting gravity on each other)? If so, there might be even stranger observable effects, like neutron stars that "flash" into black holes, but then return to their former state when the mass in the other brane(s) is pulled too far away. IE they would "blink".

Comment: Re:Another materials article (Score 1) 33

by blincoln (#47384401) Attached to: Researchers Create Walking, Muscle-Powered Biobots

Seems like one could use this type of engineered muscle to power an electrical generator which would either recharge a battery or power an electronic device directly. Then you'd have an implanted electronic device which never needed to have its battery changed or recharged using external means.

If it burned enough calories, maybe it could even be sold for cosmetic reasons - eat all you want, and transfer the surplus charge from your implanted battery to an outside system via induction.

There isn't exactly a surplus of empty space inside the human body, but I imagine this type of system could also be used to pre-condition engineered muscle tissue or replacement hearts before they're implanted into their intended recipient's body.

Comment: Re:Meh (Score 1) 129

by blincoln (#46823615) Attached to: Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

So your solution to the problem is that everyone should become a Sports Illustrated-grade professional photographer and shoot hundreds or thousands of photos at every event they go to so they can pick out the 3-5 that were actually in focus and properly composed?

I think I'm going to go with the light-field camera being the more realistic option.

Comment: Re:Not sending history to Valve (Score 1) 511

by blincoln (#46276065) Attached to: Gabe Newell Responds: Yes, We're Looking For Cheaters Via DNS

Most cheating involves modifying processes in memory, not the files on disk.

I do agree that it's really heavy-handed of Valve to ban players over DNS entries, though. What's to stop me from posting a page on some heavily-trafficked site with embedded image tags pointing to those systems (they may not load, since who knows if the cheat servers are even running web server components, but visiting machines will still cache the DNS entries), trying to get anyone who visits it banned on Steam?

After Goliath's defeat, giants ceased to command respect. - Freeman Dyson