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Wireless Networking

Massachusetts Boarding School Sued Over Wi-Fi Sickness 587

alphadogg writes: The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month (PDF). The child, identified only as "G" in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school's Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit. "After being continually denied access to the school in order to test their student's classroom, and having their request that all classrooms in which their child is present have the WiFi network replaced with a hard-wired Ethernet denied, the parents sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Comment split keyboards are fun (Score 1) 240

i had one - it was arm-rest mounted. there was only one space bar. i touch-type, so it would be like "rattle rattle rattle THUMP arse!.... rattle rattle THUMP".

no the weirdest thing i found was that because the keyboard was mounted on the arm rests, it was *outside* of my peripheral vision. it took three weeks to get used to, and i realised that at the time i clearly wasn't genuinely a touch-typist... because i had been using my peripheral vision to locate the keys! within three weeks i was back up to speed and accuracy.

yeahhh i loved that keyboard. the look on people's faces when they would come into my cubicle and see me with my feet up on the desk, 15in monitor 6 feet away in linux "console" mode at 80x60 resolution, happily using vi for programming at over 170wpm....

Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Do You Press "6" Key With Right Or Left Hand? 240

New submitter ne0phyte73 writes: In some countries and in some touch typing books key "6" is pressed with right hand and in some others with left. It's not a big issue until you have a split keyboard. Guys at UHK are putting it on the left side. Do you agree? What hand do you use to press "6"? Left hand here, but it's not a strong preference; I'll take a keyboard that omits Caps Lock wherever they put the 6.

Comment Re:real-time adaptive video playback (Score 1) 220

Do you know which video codec you're talking about? As far as I can recall, there are a couple of "Flash video" codecs, and none of them are particularly exotic at this point. There was Sorenson Spark, which I believe was essentially H263, and VP6. These days, H264 and VP8 (WebM) are very common, considered to be improvements over previous versions, and not tied to Flash.

it's not the CODECs themselves, it's the "real time adaptation" that's important. i don't know if you were paying attention, but at higher bandwidths you simply wouldn't notice that there was anything important going on underneath, because there would be enough bandwidth to just go straight to the fastest transfer speed with the absolute best and top quality data being transferred.

when the bandwidth is drastically reduced (to 10k/sec), that's when any "imperfections" in the TCP connection create a much larger - and much more noticeable - effect.... but the point is *it doesn't matter* because of the "adaptation".

basically when the bandwidth is noticed (by flash player) to be absolutely terrible, the picture quality is reduced by a factor of 16 - pixels are treated as 4x4 "blocks", and that means that the video bandwidth is drastically reduced as well.... yet the picture remains a moving one.

when the bandwidth picks up again, the picture quality reduction is brought down to 9 (3x3), then if that's ok it's brought down further, and, finally, if it's genuinely all ok, the quality is brought up to the maximum requested.

this simply *DOES NOT HAPPEN* within a CODEC such as VP8, H264 and so on. those are *FIXED* bandwidth, *FIXED* picture size CODECS that, if they are used, assume PERFECT conditions. yes, sure, there are supposed to be "fixed frames" within the streams, so that if the bandwidth drops temporarily then the picture may be "frozen" until the next "fixed frame" comes along... ... but what if the bandwidth drops by 50% and *never recovers*? you can't watch the video in real-time, can you?

and that's the point: adobe's playback *adapts to the conditions*. no open standard that i know of has that capability, even though i know that when i last looked there were "multi-stream" extensions to H.26X being worked on. these were based on the principle that a "coarse" video was encoded at very low resolution (and very low bandwidth), then "additions" were made at ever-increasing quality (and data rates) which you could additionally ask for at the receiving end, *if* you had the available real-time bandwidth to do so. ... but i don't see that being announced in a big splash on any techie news site as having been a successful open standard developed with libre-licensed reference source code.

Comment Re:Freedom does not mean no laws (Score 1) 264

A complete absence of laws for you necessarily means a loss of freedom for me because there is nothing restraining you (or me) from removing other people's freedom.

there is indeed something restraining you: your own moral and ethical judgement. and that's really what man-made laws are there for: to catch the people who have no understanding of either morals or ethics.

the problem we have right now is that the process by which the laws are made has itself been blatantly corrupted, and there are people in positions of power who feel that they can blatantly ignore the entire legal process.

at some point ordinary american citizens - probably pressurised by the rest of the world - are going to wake up and start to demand answers. my money's on that process being inspired by and traced back to people right here on slashdot, of course.

Comment real-time video (Score -1, Redundant) 220

i don't know if anyone's really noticed, but flash's real-time adaptive video CODECs are actually incredibly good. i created a video chat site a few years back [tried red5 as the back-end server, and finally got to actually put some reality behind why i detest java. up until then i'd only known *theoretically* why java is a piss-poor language compared to the alternatives...]

anyway, leaving the back-end alone as it's a red herring, i was deeply impressed at how little bandwidth each video window could be given yet still remain audible and actually convey useful video information. i restricted each user to a paltry 10k-bytes (!) of bandwidth - that's for video *and* audio, limited the window size to 240x180, and was absolutely amazed to find that the video would easily recover from drop-outs.

basically what would happen is that during a drop-out, audio would be prioritised, and video would pause. recovery of the video stream (which could be done *precisely because* i had set the bandwidth so low) would literally "unfold" before my eyes, in exactly the same way that you see those 1980s pop video and children's programs "pixellation" effects.

basically they would transmit a crude video image, then send the improvements as a second round, then a third, and so on. now, here's the thing: i have looked for "adaptive video" algorithms in the past, and, whilst there exists an effort to create such a standard as a public standard, it's simply completely behind the times.

adobe managed it *years* ago... yet no open standard exists in common usage which comes even remotely close to successfully replicating this.

i appreciate that technically, it's incredibly challenging to get right. even the team behind skype - when they sold and created a real-time video streaming company "joost" - failed after a few years and gave up.... but what people forget is that *adobe already succeeded*. ... what has been substituted in its place? well, sure, we can do real-time video browser-to-browser.... but the assumption is that there is "perfect conditions". perfect bandwidth. perfect connections. no drop-outs. no brown-outs. zero latency.

adobe's solution isn't perfect: i know from experience that after a few hours, the real-time adaptive video stream *can* get out-of-sync (by over a minute in some cases), and will "recover" in a flurry of fast-forward stop-motion frames. really quite hilarious to witness. but, the only other alternative that i know of which is even *remotely* close to replicating what adobe did is *another* proprietary video codec, behind "zoom.us". it's developed by a former developer behind cisco's real-time video system. which uses flash in some places, and java in others. and is dreadful and unreliable, and has latency often of up to 1..5 seconds. unlike zoom.us which works incredibly well, and has very little latency.

so i'm going to call this article out, as entirely missing the point, namely that there *really* aren't any good alternatives to the core of what flash does really really well, but the problem is that they should have released the entire client and server as software libre under the LGPL a long, _long_ time ago because it just doesn't make them any money, and they just don't have the manpower to keep on fixing the security issues any more.

Comment real-time adaptive video playback (Score 5, Interesting) 220

i don't know if anyone's really noticed, but flash's real-time adaptive video CODECs are actually incredibly good. i created a video chat site a few years back [tried red5 as the back-end server, and finally got to actually put some reality behind why i detest java. up until then i'd only known *theoretically* why java is a piss-poor language compared to the alternatives...]

anyway, leaving the back-end alone as it's a red herring, i was deeply impressed at how little bandwidth each video window could be given yet still remain audible and actually convey useful video information. i restricted each user to a paltry 10k-bytes (!) of bandwidth - that's for video *and* audio, limited the window size to 240x180, and was absolutely amazed to find that the video would easily recover from drop-outs.

basically what would happen is that during a drop-out, audio would be prioritised, and video would pause. recovery of the video stream (which could be done *precisely because* i had set the bandwidth so low) would literally "unfold" before my eyes, in exactly the same way that you see those 1980s pop video and children's programs "pixellation" effects.

basically they would transmit a crude video image, then send the improvements as a second round, then a third, and so on. now, here's the thing: i have looked for "adaptive video" algorithms in the past, and, whilst there exists an effort to create such a standard as a public standard, it's simply completely behind the times.

adobe managed it *years* ago... yet no open standard exists in common usage which comes even remotely close to successfully replicating this.

i appreciate that technically, it's incredibly challenging to get right. even the team behind skype - when they sold and created a real-time video streaming company "joost" - failed after a few years and gave up.... but what people forget is that *adobe already succeeded*. ... what has been substituted in its place? well, sure, we can do real-time video browser-to-browser.... but the assumption is that there is "perfect conditions". perfect bandwidth. perfect connections. no drop-outs. no brown-outs. zero latency.

adobe's solution isn't perfect: i know from experience that after a few hours, the real-time adaptive video stream *can* get out-of-sync (by over a minute in some cases), and will "recover" in a flurry of fast-forward stop-motion frames. really quite hilarious to witness. but, the only other alternative that i know of which is even *remotely* close to replicating what adobe did is *another* proprietary video codec, behind "zoom.us". it's developed by a former developer behind cisco's real-time video system. which uses flash in some places, and java in others. and is dreadful and unreliable, and has latency often of up to 1..5 seconds. unlike zoom.us which works incredibly well, and has very little latency.

so i'm going to call this article out, as entirely missing the point, namely that there *really* aren't any good alternatives to the core of what flash does really really well, but the problem is that they should have released the entire client and server as software libre under the LGPL a long, _long_ time ago because it just doesn't make them any money, and they just don't have the manpower to keep on fixing the security issues any more.

Comment winter soldier, zola's algorithm (Score 5, Interesting) 264

whilst others may quote george orwell 1984, philip k dick, V for Vendetta, minority report and so on, i'm reminded of the more recent film captain america winter soldier, in which a swiss nazi/hydra scientist, who was permitted to work in the US after the 2nd world war, creates an "algorithm" that can read people's online digital fingerprint, predicts whether they are likely to be a threat (to hydra's "new world order"), and the results are used to murder them... *before* they can act.

the justifications for such action - delivered by the character played by robert redford - sound so completely sane and rational that it's genuinely hard - rationally - to come up with a counter-argument. questions are asked such as "what if we could stop terrorists before they act?" and to be absolutely honest, the responses by the actors were really not that convincing, as they sounded lame in their "emotive" and "moral conscience" justification.

and that's really illustrative of what we're seeing here. these films merely reflect to us what's *actually* going on. these films are pointing out to us that there are *genuinely* people out there who can, with no moral conscience whatsoever and with a blatant disregard for the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, use purely rational logic to justify the removal of freedom and even of life itself.

the problem is, i feel, that the founding fathers had just been through a war that tore what is now known as the U.S. apart: the lesson was burned into their minds, and it brought together people with good conscience to make sensible and far-sighted committments, in the form of "The Constitution".

by contrast, i cannot honestly say that i can even guess at what truly drives the current power-hungry people who make decisions like the ones that they're making right now. we have people like bruce schneier "calling out" their "security theatrics", but that's just a symptom, not the underlying motivation. we see glimpses that something terribly strange is going on - https://www.youtube.com/watch?... - but it's sufficiently orwellian that even i have a hard time comprehending the implications.

so help me out here: someone please help me to understand why there are people in the world's leading nation - the one that all others look up to - who would blatantly disregard the principles on which the U.S. Constitution is founded.

Crime

US No-Fly List Uses 'Predictive Judgement' Instead of Hard Evidence 264

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that in a little-noticed filing before an Oregon federal judge, the US Justice Department and the FBI conceded that stopping U.S. and other citizens from traveling on airplanes is a matter of "predictive assessments about potential threats." "By its very nature, identifying individuals who 'may be a threat to civil aviation or national security' is a predictive judgment intended to prevent future acts of terrorism in an uncertain context," Justice Department officials Benjamin C Mizer and Anthony J Coppolino told the court. It is believed to be the government's most direct acknowledgment to date that people are not allowed to fly because of what the government believes they might do and not what they have already done. The ACLU has asked Judge Anna Brown to conduct her own review of the error rate in the government's predictions modeling – a process the ACLU likens to the "pre-crime" of Philip K Dick's science fiction. "It has been nearly five years since plaintiffs on the no-fly list filed this case seeking a fair process by which to clear their names and regain a right that most other Americans take for granted," say ACLU lawyers.

The Obama administration is seeking to block the release of further information about how the predictions are made, as damaging to national security. "If the Government were required to provide full notice of its reasons for placing an individual on the No Fly List and to turn over all evidence (both incriminating and exculpatory) supporting the No Fly determination, the No Fly redress process would place highly sensitive national security information directly in the hands of terrorist organizations and other adversaries," says the assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Michael Steinbach.
Privacy

Finnish Politician Suggests Embedding Chips In Citizens To Protect the Welfare State 312

New submitter janit writes that social benefits to Finnish citizens living outside of Finland have in recent days been the cause of controversy, and links to an article which suggests just how much of a controversy: A politician from the True Finns Party, Pasi Mäenranta, is also worried about the abuse of the benefits. He published a post on Facebook, where he suggests that all Finnish citizens leaving the country be embedded with an identification chip. Sounds like a parallel system might be a popular idea with some U.S. presidential candidates, too.
Wireless Networking

ProxyHam Debunked and Demoed At DEFCON 38

darthcamaro writes: Last month, the ProxyHam project talk for DEFCON was mysteriously cancelled. In its place as a later edition is a new talk, in which the ProxyHam approach will be detailed and debunked — in a session called '"HamSammich". In a video preview of the talk, Rob Graham and Dave Maynor detail the flaws of ProxyHam and how to do the same thing with off the shelf gear, legally. "Our goal is to show that ProxyHam did not actually enhance security," Maynor said. "It does the exact opposite, causing more trouble than you can fix."
Security

Tesla Model S Has Been Hacked 262

cartechboy writes: First, it was Chrysler last month with its Uconnect system being hacked while being driven down the road. Now, it's Tesla's turn. That's right, the Silicon Valley automaker's very own Model S electric car has been hacked by two white-hat hackers. The duo were able to manipulate the speedometer, lock and unlock the car, and at speeds of less than 5 mph they were able to make all the electronics go blank and shut down the car while engaging the emergency parking brake dragging the car to a stop. Tesla's already issued a software update that owners can download to path the security flaw. Welcome to the new world where cars can be hacked thanks to all their electronics.

Comment quad-bike designed a few years ago (Score 1) 80

this isn't a new concept: there was a quad-bike i saw a few years ago with an amazing 4 wheel double wishbone suspension that could articulate at least 2 feet per wheel, independently. watching the videos of the rider tipping the handlebars side-to-side was particularly interesting, because when they did so all four wheels leaned side-to-side as well (because of the double wishbones). can anyone remember what the company was who did that quad-bike? the demo videos they did of going at about 10mph over 1ft high rocks were pretty damn impressive.

Comment efficiency... (Score 1) 248

didn't we just have an article posted on here where someone pointed out that the efficiency from end-to-end of charging a mobile phone is something like *16* percent? ... so why is bill gates investing in an area of least efficiency? it makes me wonder, y'know - when people get a lot of money (like google throwing money at project ara to help create and entrench existing monopoly positions around the UniPro standard), they often don't think "how can this problem be solved in a way that *doesn't* need a lot of money?" not so as to be stingy, but so that creativity is applied instead of brute force, if you know what i mean. just because you *can* solve the *production* of energy doesn't mean that you shouldn't be looking at solving the reduction of energy *consumption*.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

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