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Comment Re:Works for me (Score 1) 123

And in the meantime it is sending bog-knows-what to who-knows-what. I think I'll pass....

I didn't pass, I checked. I had my router log the packets from my TV for a couple of weeks, then fired up Wireshark to look at who it was talking to and what it was sending. Result? On a daily basis it sends a tiny request to the manufacturer, which I suspect is checking for firmware updates. Other than that, it appears to connect to Netflix when I watch Netflix, my DLNA server when I watch stuff from it, YouTube when I watch that, etc. That's it.

It also occurs to me... if you're worried about a information being sent who knows where, why are you not worried about your Roku, etc.? How do you know what it's sending? Why is a Smart TV riskier than any of the other network-connected media-playing devices you might hook to it?


On iFixit and the Right To Repair (vice.com) 112

Jason Koebler writes: Motherboard sent a reporter to the Electronics Reuse Convention in New Orleans to investigate the important but threatened world of smartphone and electronics repair. As manufacturers start using proprietary screws, offer phone lease programs and use copyright law to threaten repair professionals, the right-to-repair is under more threat than ever. "That Apple and other electronics manufacturers don't sell repair parts to consumers or write service manuals for them isn't just annoying, it's an environmental disaster, [iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens] says. Recent shifts to proprietary screws, the ever-present threat of legal action under a trainwreck of a copyright law, and an antagonistic relationship with third-party repair shops shows that the anti-repair culture at major manufacturers isn't based on negligence or naiveté, it's malicious."

Comment Re:I'd be wary of Musk, too (Score 5, Insightful) 77

He seems really good at using government subsidies to make money for himself.

Well, that's the point isn't it? To jumpstart private industry? You can't do that without the profit motive.

Tesla paid it's 450 million 2009 loan back with interest in four years and went from the brink of bankruptcy to a market cap of 29 billion dollars. Sounds like a success story to me.

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 62

But what possible use is publishing your private key?

Perhaps, it is to be able to deny responsibility for bad software later, but that's a little too far-fetched...

Well, we're not talking about publishing THE private key to anything Dell cares about. We're talking about publishing A private key that Dell can use to do things on the client's machine that undermine the security model. Why? Well there's lots of potential ways to create revenue or cut costs that way. For example Lenovo did it so they could inject ads into web pages that were supposedly cryptographically protected from tampering.


Lori Garver Claims That NASA Is 'Wary' of Elon Musk's Mars Plans (arstechnica.com) 77

MarkWhittington writes: Ars Technica reports that former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver claimed, during a panel discussion at the Council for Foreign Relations, that many at NASA are "wary" of the Mars ambitions of SpaceX's Elon Musk. While the space agency has yielded low Earth operations to the commercial sector as part of the commercial crew program, it reserves for itself deep space exploration. Garver herself disagrees with that sentiment: "I thought, fundamentally, you just don’t understand. We’re not in a race in a swimming pool where everyone is racing against one another. We're in a cycling race where the government is riding point and the others are drafting behind us, and if someone comes alongside us and can pass us because they’ve found a better way, we don’t get out our tire pump and stick it between their spokes."

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 62

So, the happy owners of the affected laptops can now issue certificates and/or sign drivers, which will be accepted as genuine by other owners of Dell hardware?

Seriously? If so, that's just too dumb to be malicious...

It's not too dumb to be willful negligence -- defined in legal dictionaries as "Intentional performance of an unreasonable act in disregard of a known risk..."

Having the know-how to do such a thing necessarily entails knowledge of why its a bad idea. So either an engineer acted in breech of professional ethics, or managers rode roughshod over the engineers' objections.

Comment Re:High level? (Score 4, Insightful) 81

Speaking as someone who learned C in 1980, C was originally thought of as a low-level language -- a suitable replacement in most cases for assembly language that, while abstracting underlying details like the CPU instruction set and registers, remained relatively small and "close to the hardware". Then later 80s I was asked to take over a course on C, and when I looked at the course description I was surprised to see it described as a "high level language". I asked the person who wrote the description what he meant by "high level language", and he really had no idea. He said he meant it was "powerful", which of course is just as vague when comparing any two Turing equivalent languages.

Of course "high level" vs. "low level" is relative. C is "high level" in comparison to assembly, or "B", in which the only datatype was a computer word. On the other hand C "low level" in comparison to most other languages that hide away the details of the hardware like instruction set and registers and such. So it depends on what you're comparing to; but in general I think people who describe C as "low level" know more about what they're talking about than those who call it a "high level" language.

The important thing isn't whether C is "high" or "low" level; it is what makes C work, which is largely about what was left out. It didn't have all the bells and whistles of something like PL/1, which made the language easy to implement, even on a tiny 8 bit microcomputer, and easy to learn, in the form of a slim, almost pamphlet-like book (The C Programming Language, 1st edition was 228 paperback-sized pages long).

Even so, C has become very slightly more "higher level" over the years. The original K&R C was more weakly typed than the later ANSI C. Particularly when you were dealing with pointers, the declared type of a pointer in K&R C was more of a mnemonic aid to the programmer than anything else.

Comment Re:What purpose does registration serve? (Score 1) 190

Hunting and fishing licenses are also to ensure the proper level/age/gender of animals, or at least close to it, is hunted, for conservation, etc. purposes

No, no they are not. Licenses don't do that. The only thing licenses do is make sure that someone has spent money. Only enforcement does that. Enforcement already happens; they have wardens out all year making sure that people aren't poaching. I live in major hunting country, so there's lots of them here.

For most big game, there's also a tag attached to the license, which much be attached to the game animal when taken. Tags do serve (with enforcement) to ensure that the right number, age and gender of animals are taken. Other game species have daily limits, but those could be enforced without any sort of specific licensing. Of course, the license fees generally pay for the enforcement, so licenses do help manage hunting for conservation. License fees generally pay for lots of other conservation measures as well.

Comment Re: Micropayments? (Score 2) 199

Well, part of it is that even a small payment can still incur a psychologically large cost. If each user post here on /. cost one cent to read, would you want to have them load automatically? Probably not, many of them are not worth that much, and you could quickly run up a bill of a few hundred dollars a year on that sort of thing from this site alone. So instead you'd have to take more time to think about what was worth spending even a little on, because it adds up and the price doesn't really match the value to you of the thing you'd be paying for.

Something similar happens when people have metered or capped Internet usage compared to at least nominally unlimited usage.

You really can't avoid this problem unless the micropayment is so small that it is likely not worth the cost to implement. I suppose if I knew that a year's worth of micro payments for me, for everything I use, was no more than about a dollar a year in total, it wouldn't be so much that it would feel like I was wasting money on the Internet. But because the average user doesn't want to spend a noticeable amount ever, and there really aren't that many users in comparison to sites, the resulting pie of money wouldn't be much to split up. (Especially once you reduce the amount to account for lower average incomes elsewhere in the world)

Comment Re:Except they used regular SMS (Score 1) 291

No, you don't do engineering. You do software design, because you are not liable for the integrity of what you make.

People just started calling it engineering to feel special, but it's pretty distinct, and dishonest of you to call yourself such.

So, liability defines engineering, it has nothing to do with applying science to build things. Okay, whatever you say.

All power corrupts, but we need electricity.