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Comment Off the roads, now! (Score 0, Troll) 471

Although the government has been saying they are still legal to drive and sell I can't see how that is true. They do not meet the requirements to be on the road and any use should be immediately prohibited with VW ordered to repurchase all affected vehicles at original price and to pay all costs for replacement transportation until impacted drivers can obtain a US-legal alternative. Only then can we discuss the punitive damages.

This was not an accident or slight disagreement. It was blatant and intentional cheating to get a non-conforming vehicle to circumvent the tests. The whole lot of these jokers has already been discovered to "pass" EU mileage standards by running the tests at high altitude, with the belts removed to reduce drag from the alternator and other equipment. They even removed seats, overinflated the tires, taped all the seams and ran the test on a hyper-smooth track. When called on it their response was, "well yes, the test definitions should be improved but it would be unfair to alter the standards without a few year advance notice."

1. Build dirty car.
2. Insert malware to pass the tests.
3. Profit!

Until #3 turns from profit into devastating loss they will keep doing it.

Comment Alarm is last... (Score 1) 212

There's an old joke about a couple guys in a tent who hear a bear. One starts lacing his shoes. The other says, "you idiot, you can't outrun a bear." The first guy responds, "don't need do, I just have to outrun you."

Security is the same. You can't build a fortress but you can make your place substantially less attractive than others.

Burglaries are up everywhere. Where I live is no considered a "bad" area but our door was kicked in last year and my wife's car was burglarized last week (along with half a dozen others) when she was running errands. It was neighbors looking out that resulted in two of the burglars being arrested and my sleuthing on Craigslist that led to a sting that recovered a nice camera.

In a past life I have worked both in law enforcement and also worked installing alarm systems including multi-hundred-zone museum systems. Before looking at an alarm system be sure you have addressed physical security and understand burglary patterns. They aren't mostly at night - they are in the day when people are away. A typical burglary involves someone knocking on the door. If someone answers, they are "taking a poll", "sorry, I thought this was Mr. Smith's house", etc. No answer, they kick the door (or back door or jimmy a window).

Doors are pathetically easy to kick. Sure, you got that 1" deadbolt but it's still going into a piece of 3/4" finger-jointed pine trim. Several manufacturers sell long reinforcing pieces - basically a several foot long plate that replaces the strike and deadbolt plate and screws all the way into the stud with a dozen long screws. Still, a panel door with thin decorative sections can allow someone to kick through and unlock from the inside. Small sidelight windows, doggy-doors, mail-slots and the like can be broken or reached through to unlock a door as well. If you end up looking at any door upgrades you can find steel-framed doors with heavy-duty bolt systems.

You will need to evaluate your windows - too long a subject to get into but your friendly search-engine will help. Also look at your general property condition and things that might telegraph an empty house like uncollected mail, papers, etc. Most police departments offer a security check service that will help with all of the above.

Get to know your neighbors. Join/form a neighborhood watch.

Now that you have dealt with the physical issues so your doors and windows are solid and won't just rattle and cause false alarms you can start working on electronic.

I understand the desire to DIY for fun and to avoid what I consider to be insane monitoring fees. In the 20-years I've lived here I would have spent over $7,000 in monitoring which is less than we lost (not counting the door repair) even if we had no insurance coverage. But now with kids there is the peace-of-mind factor to consider. The trouble with DIY is that there are now excellent and affordable wireless panels that are quick and easy to install and have all the necessary backup batteries, dialers and the like. Plus you put up the "protected" yard sign to deter (although around here the burglars look at the signs from the cut-rate firms as an invitation rather than a deterrent - "hey, there's good stuff and they won't call the cops anytime soon"). I will be installing a system soon but I'm not going to redesign it myself.

Cameras are a deterrent, too, and there I'm looking at a number of DIY options for recording video. There's the "motion" software and a number of neat Raspberry Pi options. Several burglars have been apprehended around here because people had cameras. That's where I'm putting my DIY effort.

Comment Most thieves are idiots (Score 2) 120

Sure, some crooks might change the MAC but in many devices a hard reset will return it to the default. But a typical burglar kicks in your door, ransacks the house, grabs anything they think will make them a quick buck for next fix and runs.

I found my camera on Craigslist a couple days after it was stolen in just such a burglary. The cops called him up to "buy" it back and busted him. When I got my camera back it not only had the original configuration settings including my name as the author and copyright holder but also photos of the thief himself taken at the camera store where he tried to sell it.

Finding the manual and learning how to clear configurations and set MAC addresses is simply not in your average crook's play-book.

Comment ScottEvest (Score 1) 278

On my keychain I have, um, keys. As few as possible. In pants pockets I generally have a wallet, a lockblade knife, a small leatherman tool (no blade - TSA OK), handkerchief and always a flashlight (Surefire Backup). My phone is always with me somewhere.

But I am almost always wearing my ScottEvest in which I generally have an Ironkey plus a few non-secure USB drives, pocket notebook, rarely used magnifier glasses and magnifier card, photography grey-card, parking access key, pens (rollerball, retractable mid and small size sharpies and lens-cleaning pen), glasses cleaning cloth, spare camera battery, spare flashlight batteries, dental floss, trash-bag (emergency raincoat, camera cover or even to collect trash on hikes), spare cash, earplugs, business cards, infrared-camera camera attachment and so on.

Sometimes there is also a pocket first-aid kit. Mothers are always surprised when it's the guy who is actually prepared when their kid gets a "boo boo."

Often there is a desktop tripod, tele-extender or other photo accessories in one pocket or another and more often than not a DSLR slung across the shoulder.

Comment Damned if you do... (Score 4, Insightful) 247

I remember a bit of design in a small aircraft. In order to address the problem of gear-up landings, Piper came up with a system that, when it detected the appropriate combination of airspeed and engine conditions, would automatically lower the gear. It had an override so the pilot could indicate that this was not accidental and to not deploy the gear.

The system was very popular and copied onto a variety of aircraft. Nobody knows how many gear-up accidents were prevented since nobody calls up after a fine landing to report that they had actually screwed up and were saved by the auto-extend system. But the one person who failed to override the system after an engine failure and had the gear deploy filed and won a lawsuit claiming that the auto-deploy system was what caused them to be unable to glide to the airport. As a result, the manufacturers ceased making them and directed their removal from existing aircraft.

How long will it be before someone sues claiming that the auto-braking system in their car caused whiplash?

Submission Feds admit Stingray can disrupt bystanders' communications

linuxwrangler writes: The government has fought hard to keep details about use and effects of the controversial Stingray device secret. But this Wired article points to recently released documents in which the government admits that the device can cause collatoral damage to other network users. The controversy has heated to the point that Florida senator Bill Nelson has made combative statments that such devices will inevitably force lawmakers to come up with new ways to protect privacy — a comment that is even more remarkable considering that the Stingray is produced by Harris Corporation which is headquartered in Nelson's home state.

Submission MBRI develops modular open-source underwater camera

linuxwrangler writes: In an effort to "monitor the depths without sinking the budget", the Monterey Bay Research Institute has developed the See Star modular underwater camera system. Using a GoPro camera along with support batteries and lights encased in housings made from PVC pipe, the design was conceived as open-source from the start with all hardware and software available on bitbucket. They are already working on new versions and plan to demonstrate it at various Maker Faires.

Submission United and Orbitz sure 22-year-old programmer for telling the truth 1

linuxwrangler writes: Aktarer Zaman, a young computer scientist, started a "side project" called Skiplagged to compile a relatively well-known method of finding inexpensive airfares. But organizing fully public information into a user-friendly form has gotten him sued by United and Orbitz who are less than enthralled by his activities and are accusing his not-for-profit site of "unfair competition" and promotion of "strictly prohibited" travel. Sounds like some large corporations need to brush up on the first amendment to the United States Constitution.

Submission LAX to London flight delayed over WiFi name

linuxwrangler writes: A flight from LAX to London was delayed after a passenger reported seeing "Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork" as an available hotspot name and reported it to a flight attendant. The flight was taken to a remote part of the airport and delayed for several hours but "after further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken."

Comment Just moves a choke point (Score 2, Insightful) 395

One need only calculate the size of substation needed to deliver the equivalent energy of, say, a 16-pump Costco gas station to see that the fact that a battery can be charged that fast doesn't mean there is any infrastructure anywhere that could support it. The Tesla has an 85kWh battery. In other words, a 70% charge in 2-minutes requires pumping over 1.7 million watts to the car. Think a 2,000-volt supply shoving nearly 900-amps. Per "pump." But that kind of capacity would allow for better capture of regenerative braking energy.

It could be great for things like cordless drills. At ~40-60 Wh the supply would not require more than a standard 120V/15A outlet.

In space, no one can hear you fart.