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Comment: Re:Rain attenuates the radio signal (Score 1) 150

I wonder how well a laser is going to punch through a rain shaft if the microwave signal can't make it. This seems like great tech for temporary links, where someone can tend the optics, but seems dubious for permanent installations. It sure is nice to have a working network during the big ice or snow storm.

I once had to show I could pass messages by semaphore. (also very limited bandwidth in freezing rain) Gotta love tech where giant robots waving their arms are used to increase link distance and bandwidth.

Comment: Re:Put away the tinfoil hat and turn your radio of (Score 1) 168

by fhage (#48215207) Attached to: Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

There is an incredibly easy solution. Turn off your Wifi. Tada! Problem solved.

These days, it isn't easy being an electronic ninja. Don't forget to turn off Cell, Bluetooth and NFC, the radios in your glasses, watch, fitness monitor, Tesla fob, headphones, tablet and gameboy, and disable the RFID tags in your wallet, luggage, shoes and clothing.

Comment: Re:This is good (Score 2) 398

by fhage (#48196675) Attached to: Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Depends on whether they're identified. In Boulder Colorado, I was nabbed by a speed camera. I know the area where I generated the infraction and there was no notice, no sign, no nothing other than a letter a few weeks later.


I also live in Boulder and know the City spends a lot of money on their speed and red light cameras. When ticketing by mail for speeding, Colorado law requires an enforcement officer operate the equipment, record each infraction and post a warning sign ahead of the trap that reads "Photo Radar Ahead". The officer puts the sign up on some random street sign (usually not the speed limit sign) and parks the van down the road. They document the road signage and camera placements. The signs are green, only posted while the trap is active, and might be several blocks back if you are turning onto the street being targeted. There's also a warning sign on every road as you enter town. A City traffic engineer told me that the ticket thresholds in Boulder were set to +8mph on streets with speed limits below 35mph, and +13mph on city streets 35 and above. At least in Colorado, the speed cameras operate at a loss, and have little stealth.

If you were speeding that much and didn't notice the signs or the distinctive van with the strobe light on the back, you probably deserved to get a (no point) ticket in the mail. It's easy to avoid these tickets in Boulder.

Comment: Re:Just tell me (Score 4, Interesting) 463

by fhage (#48150859) Attached to: Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

You can only catch it by ingesting another persons bodily fluids

Let me translate that into real-world terms. Do NOT rub your eyes, nose, or mouth with the hand/s that have come in contact with Ebola infected bodily fluids.

While that's good advice, it's not completely correct. One does not have to "self-contaminate" to catch Ebola. Lab tests show a single droplet landing on your eye can cause an infection. It is well known that standard surgical masks, eye protection, gowns and gloves do not prevent transfer of Ebola from patients to their caregivers. The CDC techs working with Ebola use full containment suits with positive pressure ventilation and high performance respirators. They get 2 days of hand on-training on protocol. Reports in the MSM say the nurses infected in Tx were given a 20 minute training video and only gowns, shoe booties, gloves and a face shield. It's very possible that the infected Tx nurses didn't self-contaminate.

In addition, there's documented evidence of non-contact transmission between animals and primates. See The Ebola infection rate was 100% of the monkeys kept in the same room with infected pigs. There were no opportunities for direct contact between animals. There definitely are vectors for transmission of Ebola without any direct contact with bodily fluids.

Comment: Re:Alternative? (Score 1) 146

by fhage (#48134477) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million
I guess we're not hitting the broken silicon. We're gathering stills from a USB camera, crunching on the image and sending data via ethernet without issues.

Many people reported having problems with USB hubs and power in early models. Those problems seem fixed in the B+. I've never experienced stuck keys, even when the USB camera is in use, the CPU is heavily loaded, ethernet is transferring the images to clients and I'm 'tar'ing up files onto a USB stick.

However, there are reports where high rate, isochronous I/O via USB is still subject to data loss on this $40 system. I don't expect to get much from very low cost systems, so I'm happy.

Comment: Re:Anyone using this? (Score 1) 345

by fhage (#48124025) Attached to: ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards
I've been building and working on computers since 1974. I purchased 2 Chromebooks, one for me and one for my Mother-in-law, the ultimate computer phobe. I'm trying to use my CB 2 in my shop, mainly as a passive device, but it gets used a lot. Neither of us is a happy camper.

First, I've never owned a PC which decreased in functionality over time, like my CB. Advertised features are pulled without warning.

  • Support for Open Documents has been dropped. I cannot display, edit or print my resume, cover letters or most of my personal documents without uploading them to Google Docs and converting them first. There's no problem if you've got MS format doc files, however.
  • The Chrome OS file manager is very, very limited. It, currently, can't relabel any type of volume. It's like using windows 3.0.
  • The File manager shown no thumbnails, disk usage , file permissions, ownership, or creation dates.
  • FInding and moving images from a Camera's SD card to Google drive takes at least 5-10 times longer than on a real laptop.
  • Printing is a royal pain in the ass, even if you have networked printers. I've found one needs an always-on helper PC to make practical use of a CB.

My MIL also has a great deal of difficulty with her CB. She can't tell what is an active control on the screen for her life.

  • The Icons are too small.
  • There's no thumbnails, so finding and looking at an image takes a... really...long...time. Scrap paper to write image names, helps.
  • There's lots of printers available at her retirement home. Printing from the CB takes an act from God and cooperation from Satan. Her only option is to copy the file to a thumb drive and take it to one of their public PC's for printing.

I have an off the grid cabin. Given the CB's light weight, long battery life, I had hoped that my CB would be useful off grid, but it's turned out to be far less useful than promised. Without a good network connection, a CB is like talking to someone in a coma. Once I enabled dev mode and installed cruton, the device becomes alive again. I would never recommend anyone purchase a CB, unless they are a completely passive user and have access to other traditional compute resources or just want the hardware and will replace the OS.

Comment: 2025 is much more likely. (Score 5, Interesting) 254

by fhage (#48119395) Attached to: What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?
My molecular virologist friend's laboratory has been inserting genes into adult mouse hearts. Today, scientists can turn a couch mouse into a elite athlete with an injection (directly into the heart). It won't be long before someone decides to do this in humans. One no longer needs to be born with the genes of an elite athlete to become one. Researchers in his lab are now studying python heart genetics to better understand the mechanisms which allow the python to double the size of its heart in 24 hours after eating. Personal genetic modification is just around the corner. I predict we'll be able to engineer better athletes within a decade.

(One of my prouder nerd moments was when I came up with the idea of a better, more humane mouse dynamometer and had a prototype built later that evening. Researchers now use my design, instead of forcing the modified mice to run to the point of exhaustion on an inclined treadmill with a motivational electrical shock grid at the back.)

Comment: Doesn't change a thing. (Score 1) 61

by fhage (#48098009) Attached to: AT&T To Repay $80 Million In Shady Phone Bill Charges
Anyone can add a $9.99/mo charge to your bill. All they need is your cell # and access to a ring tone web site. You'll get a long spam SMS that ends; "reply STOP to cancel the special offer". If you fail to respond properly to the mystery SMS you didn't request, the phone company will bill you, claim you authorized the charges and refuse to cancel the service or issue any refunds. One has to put a block on all 3rd party services to in order to avoid being subject to this.

When it happened to me and I complained, the ATT CSR told me that it was Congress's fault; they specifically wrote this feature into Telecom law to encourage business.

Comment: Re:It's a simple 3 step process: (Score 1) 155

by fhage (#48093149) Attached to: Europol Predicts First Online Murder By End of This Year

Step 1. Weaponize my "Laser" printer ...

Perhaps not as far fetched as one might expect.

Many Google Cloud Print laser printers are constantly connected to the cloud and have a software controlled heat element with the potential to start a fire. Anyone who can access the owner's Google account could send the printer malicious commands.

Another potential fire vector is smart devices with Li batteries. Charge a Li battery too long and it may burst into fire. Charging is typically software controlled and most people leave their smart phones and other devices plugged into a charger at night while they sleep.

An attack could be time triggered, and a million devices might set themselves on fire at 3AM on a specific date. My own experience with the IOT suggests that security is an afterthought. It's past time we start taking these issues seriously.

Comment: Re:Speaking for myself (Score 1) 320

by fhage (#48068755) Attached to: The Era of Saturday Morning Cartoons Is Dead
My adult daughter introduced me to P&F and I've fallen in love. Like many Disney and Pixar films, the dialogue and plots are written to appeal to both kids and their parents. The adult characters and oddly interlocked subplots in P&F make it a favorite "comfort show" of mine. The dialogue is witty, often very comical and always fully of great sci fi and cultural references. Be sure to catch their Star Wars and Marvel super hero crossover episodes.

(I suspect Dr Doof reads slashdot for ideas on how to improve his robot; Norm)

Comment: The data input side of EMR is just as bad. (Score 2) 240

by fhage (#48040775) Attached to: Back To Faxes: Doctors Can't Exchange Digital Medical Records
My wife's a NP in a busy clinic and reports the expensive, commercial software they purchased:
  1. Has no keyboard navigation. Each box on a form must be selected by the mouse.
  2. Has no spell checking or medical or pharmaceutical dictionary.
  3. Has no way to add custom form templates or common phrases. Staff must retype the same thing over and over and over.
  4. Is very slow to respond; everything is done from underpowered PC's running a RDP client logged into overloaded servers in another state.
  5. The entiire system, spanning many offices sometimes becomes totally inaccessible.
  6. On failure, there is no Plan B. Staff resorts to scribbling notes on random scraps of paper and uses those to fill in forms when the system is working again.

In addition, The IT support staff told her that the vendors "super secure" remote access software would only run on a Windows PC. When she's on-call she has to update patient records. Their plan is BYOD, of course. So... she took her old, crappy Vista Netbook in. All they set up was the RDP client, defaulting to their server on the public internet. She clicks the link, Remote Client starts, 2 user/passwords and she gets a 800x600 Windows desktop. It's got a solitary icon which starts the native application. Yup... Super secure. Scrolling, mousing, cursoring and clicking to get to the form elements take more than half her time charting. It was painful to watch.

She prefers to use her Mac laptop, so I set up a Mac RDP client to use their URL and she was able to login. I watched her for a few minutes and noticed that all the controls and text were low contrast and used tiny, fuzzy fonts in the tiny 800x600 window.

I asked her; "Why do you have it configured to be so small with tiny fonts?" "That's the way it's always been. Everyone complains about it at work". Sigh.

I show her how she can expand the desktop by increasing the size of the client window and full-screen the app window to expose more of the forms. "Wow! we didn't know you could do that. That will really help! Critical stuff is always hiding off screen" Control Panel is available so I select a high contrast theme and larger, default fonts. "Wow, now I'll be able to read what's on the charts from my exam stool." Their clinic had lots of training and "experts" on site to help them learn and use the system in the first weeks, so there's no excuse for the poor default configuration they gave them.

I don't understand what has happened to the software industry. We seem to have forgotten the basics and now make the people serve the tools.

"The Mets were great in 'sixty eight, The Cards were fine in 'sixty nine, But the Cubs will be heavenly in nineteen and seventy." -- Ernie Banks