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Comment: Re:Anything MS can do Apple can do Eviler.... (Score 1) 464

by kobotronic (#42892539) Attached to: Retail Copies of Office 2013 Are Tied To a Single Computer Forever

That's a very ignorant statement.

Apple users can use the free and included Time Machine tool to keep a fully recoverable and always-current backup on an external harddrive or a network volume. In the event of a loss of a lost or damaged harddrive (stolen macbook for example) you can simply rebuild the complete installation including ALL software licenses, in a matter of minutes, to the replacement machine. I've made such a rebuild over a lunch break when my macbook harddrive had failed after getting bumped in the train on my way to work.

Comment: Gee, amateur science (Score -1, Troll) 113

by kobotronic (#41160319) Attached to: Tennessee Crater Inches Toward Recognition

So, if young Calvin digs in the back yard and finds a discarded coke bottle and calls it a dinosaur skull we think it's cute because he's just a kid.

When a grownup nerd without any apparent field experience or scientific training gets into pretend-science and goes out in the woods collecting "evidence" to support a fanciful idea about a particular sink hole being a SPACE CRATER - then it goes on slashdot because it's content.

FFS

Comment: No more dangerous than URL shortening services (Score 2) 234

by kobotronic (#38545350) Attached to: Malicious QR Code Use On the Rise

Depending on how your phone scanner app is configured, QR code URL content may be shown on the screen as a link you can choose whether or not to open. But the links are often shortened so as to make for a smaller or less dense QR code box. And that puts this "risk" in the same category and amount as following any other bit.ly "mystery meat" link that resolves on the redirect service in a redirect to the real destination.

If your browser is built like shit and visiting a "maliciously constructed" webpage can cause code execution on your system, well that's still not a problem with the QR code technology.

QR is vulnerable to "spoofing" in the sense that for example a printed advert with a link on it to download an endorsed phone app - could with a cheaply produced sticker placed over the legitimate code become corrupted so the new code points to some other app. With Android's allowance for un-regulated third-party app installations, there is some concern there that this could lead to unwitting users downloading and installing a malicious app that masquerades as the endorsed, legitimate one.

The solution here could be to extend the established Android app signing system to have an "advisory" service that ranks the credibility of the individual app signing developers and publishers and as part of the app installation process can give you a heads-up hey wait a minute this app publisher has a strongly negative trust ranking maybe you shouldn't install it.

I want nothing like Apple's walled garden, but a voluntary model where you can get a "green seal" as a trustworthy app publisher and specifically trusted apps, might go a long way.

Comment: Processing.org gets you mostly what you want. (Score 1) 783

by kobotronic (#38500048) Attached to: Why Can't We Put a BASIC On the Phone?

Processing.org is a favorite learning tool for a lot of educators wanting to get a painless "basic" introduction to proper programming. It also lets you make quick and dirty android apps without having to configure eclipse and setup a bunch of toolchain components.

To get started with Processing you just download the all-in-one free package from processing.org and launch the app and you have an IDE with a blank sheet waiting for you to put in code and several dozen practical examples ready to run. Just press play and watch.

All the fiddly bits are taken care of for you - you just have to write two pieces of code that represents what you want to happen when the program starts, and then what happens "per draw" - i.e. every time the screen is re-painted. The language is a "simplified" java - same syntax, curly brackets and all, but intentionally limited in scope to mainly focus on achieving graphics rendered in a single "window" and putting in namespace shortcuts so you don't need to remember which library contains basic text and math functions.

You don't need to use objects - the whole app "wrapper" hides that for you, but you can use objects and most Java goodies if you want. With simple tricks you can access most of the userland Android functions such as accelerometers, GPS, buttons, sound and cameras functions. It's slightly more tricky to get "permissions" for your Processing app to do things like make phone calls and that's probably for the best.

I think it's generally a fairly good "basic" programming environment for novices or those who for whatever reason can't or don't want to just spend the not excessive effort required to learn proper java and Android programming and get the much richer eclipse IDE setup.

However, Processing's IDE is almost as awful and primitive as BASIC interpreters for 1980s micros so if you're just nostalgic for unhelpful ?SYNTAX ERROR school of debugging you should feel right at home.

Comment: MPK mini + Max = all the prototyping kit you need (Score 1) 147

by kobotronic (#38038938) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Physical Input Devices For Developers?

I sometimes too want to use a tactile UI in data modelling applications with fast moving output signals. Knobs and sliders are quite intuitive ways to "dial in" biases, levels and offsets, or to navigate timelines and playback velocities or any other such parameters.

However, it is extremely rare for a software application to command a sufficient premium to justify the price of adding a physical controller with it. The price must cover the upfront development cost which is often ten times more than novice product managers might expect.

Also, the user benefit of this interface may be less than you think. How many users do you think would like to add a special thing to their crowded desktops and letting go of their mice and trackpads just for dealing with your application?

If you just want results fast to validate your basic concept then get a MIDI multicontroller such as one of the AKAI MPD or MPKs. These are typically used for Ableton performers and other digital musicians and prices are going down as they become more popular, and they include a number of sliders and knobs (potentiometer and encoder-types both) as well as oversize tap-pads, the signals from which can be readily piped into your app through the simple to use MIDI APIs.

You may also wish to prototype the physical UI logic with a thing like Max from Cycling'74, which lets you wire doodle the signal flow and tweak constants and preprocessing logic in realtime without recompiling your main app.

In many cases I prototype whole applications using a Max patch when it comes to highly specialized data modeling or signal synthesis / analysis and feedback like for robotics or industrial control.

Comment: Oh. The latest Cue Cat. (Score 1) 168

by kobotronic (#37153600) Attached to: A TV That Knows and Shares What You're Watching

Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

It seems every few years another upstart somehow gets VC for another go at the "context-aware" commercial viewer product which surely everyone wants, particularly on a voluntary basis with only a complete privacy tradeoff.

Good luck with that -

Comment: Should have gone with authentic software - fail (Score 1) 24

It's a very nicel executed GBA case mod but the game on the screen has little to do with the experience of the original Space Invaders title eating quarters by the tons in the late 1970s: It had a monochrome television CRT tube (vertical orientation) and "color" achieved with translucent overlays. It is a shame that he didn't carry the effort through by using an emulator running the authentic software instead of the cutesy GBA version 20 years newer.

Comment: Rubbish (Score 0) 171

by kobotronic (#36433392) Attached to: Chinese Spying Devices Installed On Hong Kong Cars

In none of the worthless tabloid reporting on this story has anyone produced evidence that would satisfy any electronics engineer that this would be a listening device. Why is this a slashdot story before any technical angle with meat on it has materialized?

There is no evidence of an audio processing circuit of any kind - no microphone has been discovered and none is evident in the design, which is so similar to smart pass devices used everywhere for road pricing that I will simply assume it is a common type that you could presumably find anywhere in the world. Many of these road pricing devices have battery-powered signal amplifiers both for the receiver and transmitter, which increases signal reach beyond what would be attainable to a passive RFID type tag from the overhead antenna.

There is also powered transaction logic in these types of devices which are often designed to make a sound when your account is charged. In some models such as the ones used in Singapore there is also a smart card reader for account transactions.

If in fact there is an apparently acoustic aperture in the device shell, I'd wager that a beeper is the principal application. Tooling for injection molded shells is expensive, and if there is any way to re-use an existing type then that is preferred - especially for simple utilitarian things such as these.

I remember a similar non-story from several years ago when some idiot took pictures of the power supply of his cable decoder and deduced by idiot logic that a capacitor was a microphone and Comcast was spying on him. This story is exactly as idiotic.

Comment: Who wants to give their info to magazines? (Score 2, Insightful) 41

by kobotronic (#34215742) Attached to: 'Hulu For Magazines' Relies On Users' Data

I don't want to buy content that can peer back at me.

I certainly wouldn't buy a magazine through an iTunes storefront if I knew that such a sale would result in Apple sharing with the content provider everything they knew about me (which is almost certainly too much but how can I tell?)

The magazine buying experience should be no more entangled than anonymously getting a National Geographic at an airport to pass time. If you choose to subscribe that should mean nothing more than a regularly scheduled money transaction to the content provider.

I don't know why a digital magazine would need to include advertisements specifically managed by the individual magazine content providers. Because that's how things have been done in the paper print days? That is a lame horse-and-buggy argument.

Ad networks for websites manage to deliver globally localized ads without the website content provider having to go in and do anything at all.

Given that these are *digital* magazines, it would be positively retarded for content providers to make the ads static members of the "pages" that would form the content issue. Flip through the pages of any old Nat Geo you might have lying around. How many of those ads are still relevant? The brands may persist but the product-specific ads go stale very fast.

It would make most sense to leave the user in control and make the ads a customizable nuisance you can dial up and down in quantity and personalization and resulting worth to offset the magazine content cost.

The selection and personalization of the optional, and dynamically injected ads, should be performed by a globally operating ad network to ensure the ad content is locally and perpetually relevant. Magazine content providers should be able to tag their content in sufficient detail so that the ads selected by the ad provider can be tactically placed with high relevance (and exposure worth!) to specific articles. This would be similar to how magazine articles reviewing a specific product often have an ad for the same product on the next page. But with a digital magazine, upon later re-reading the original ad might have been replaced with something advertising the newest model, or perhaps a competitor's model.

My point is, there is no reason why the original editorial staff or magazine content providers should have to manage the process of replacing and inserting the digital ads. That should be some org that is above them or serves all the magazines and specializes in this business, and can operate competently in more markets so that magazine content can be translated, localized and resold outside of original target market.

Further, that advertising org should be possible to filter out completely by the premium-paying user so that no ads even enter the picture.

The digital magazine stand user should be able to select which, if any demographic attributes they are willing to (relatively anonymously) expose to the advertising org, and will be rewarded with a higher or lower discount on the magazine issue price depending on how valuable their filtered profile is for those ad networks.

Comment: Consumers to blame... (Score 1) 371

by kobotronic (#29616683) Attached to: Apple Wants Patents For Crippling Cellphones

...if consumers did not implicitly agree to buying these crippled phones from the providers, these practices would not remain in vogue.

I only bought an Android phone when I know I could get a rooted one with no guff and no crippled features. It still has a dumb country-specific limitation on the market place precluding paid apps for my area, but such things as tethering and VoIP apps seem be working fine with no restrictions on which networks I switch my data traffic.

There is not excuse for the tethering restrictions, and in Europe most providers can offer unlimited data at small premiums. Why should it be different for US providers? They should simply price their data plans to match service provisioning cost.

Cellphone carriers everywhere are notoriously greedy, but US providers are the worst and most expensive - and do not act in the interest of their users, whom they instead nickel and dime to death with outrageous service charges and all manners of designs for captive restraints.

That Apple chooses to embrace this culture of consumer-hostile greed rather than fight against it shows us clearly what kind of corporation they are.

Comment: Re:If you think about it.... (Score 1) 256

by kobotronic (#29324613) Attached to: Amazon Offers To Return Pulled Orwell Ebooks

Again the cryptic argument defending the content revocation on grounds of some rights issue at the retailer. Yes, the retailer sold products from a publisher who had screwed up. That issue should have been resolved on that end, and not in any way should it have affected the user. The title should have been taken off the virtual book store shelves so no more copies would be sold, and the proceeds from the content sales should have been transferred to the legit rights owner. Nobody would have noticed, nobody would have cared, and amazon would not have egg on its face. The only valid reason for ever remotely deleting delivered content should be if the content in any way was harmful to the user or contained state secrets or similar material that could be indisputably argued would be in the public interest to have removed after accidental delivery.

The IP suits conjures up all kinds of abstract fantasies around IP ownership and implies that the mechanisms for burglarizing customers' content stores to reclaim accidentally unlicensed goods are rooted in physical-world precedents, which it isn't. If you end up buying a dud copy of a Disney DVD in a thrift store, the store alone is at fault and if discovered by the Disney police, the situation is resolved in a manner which in no way involves police kicking in doors and clawing back these dud copies. If using a Kindle means I can't expect to have any degree of privacy and protection of my private property and goods purchased in good faith then I don't see myself signing up as a customer for such a thing. Then I don't "own" what I buy and I would no more buy moon plots than these abstract IP phantoms of pseudo-property.

Comment: Re:Geek pretentiousness (Score 1) 633

by kobotronic (#29184027) Attached to: Thanks For the ... Eight-Track, Uncle Alex

Floppies are probably a bad example. NASA has famously had lots of grief trying to find equipment to decipher their archaic floppies from the beginning of the space shuttle project. Today I would be hard pressed to find anyone with a working 5.25" drive capable of reading my old late-80s highschool documents. I doubt the discs are actually physically readable by anoyone. With the dwindling interest fewer and fewer specialty places will support the tech and so it will become ever more expensive to recover data locked in these archaic formats. Flash-based storage media with USB interfaces would, given their ubiquity today probably be readable using common adapter equipment in 2025, but I don't know if the physical medium is immune to degradation over time.

The technology replacement pace is anything but linear. We're experiencing a very rapid transition from physical media to online storage, and new, ever more abstract frameworks and access concepts. Who can tell what Google Wave 3.0 look like and how we'll be accessing it? The change involved here does not compare to the evolution that led from reel-to-reel decks to cassette tapes. Certainly there will be oldtimers and troglodytes suspiciously hanging on to local physical media in 16 years - distrusting or otherwise rejecting the communal content cloud. Teenagers will have fully embraced it, knowing no alternative and shaping ever more inscrutable further evolution.

Comment: Physical media? How noughties (Score 1) 633

by kobotronic (#29183841) Attached to: Thanks For the ... Eight-Track, Uncle Alex

If stored properly, I would expect a conventional 'archival grade' DVD to be readable - at least have recoverable data - in that time. However, in 16 years few teenagers or even private households will have any use or exposure to physical media of any kind - blue-ray, DVDs and CDs relics of pre-wired times on par with 78rpm discs and dead sea scrolls. Only greybearded nerds and specialty data recovery / conversion places will probably even have operational, attached optical drives. Teenagers certainly won't. The 2025 equivalent to cellphones and cloud services will cover all their data access needs. But - it will be possible to find a data conversion place in a nearby stripmall that for a modest charge will copy contents of optical media to your account. Expect intellectual property zombies to have agents monitoring such recovery processes and possibly interfering with any licensed content you might choose to include.

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