Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
What's the story with these ads on Slashdot? Check out our new blog post to find out. ×

Comment Re:Somebody had to sell Hitler the ovens (Score 1) 71

I guess it's too much to expect any company, even the "do no evil" one, to stand up for principle when there's so much money at stake.

Especially when it's doing absolutely no good. It made sense for Google to stand up to China when it appeared that there was a good chance they could win. But China won. The absence of Google's services did not cause the Chinese people to demand it, and the Great Firewall was successful at blocking and degrading Google's services enough that people largely don't bother. VPN services exist, but the Firewall makes them unreliable and short-lived solutions, so the Chinese just don't use Google much. And those who are doing all of the work to get around the Firewall are those who will do that work to get to uncensored search services anyway.

So, money aside (not that Google is ignoring the money), there's really nothing to be achieved by staying out of China, and at least some possibility of achieving something by being in China.

Comment Re:Cop video storage is a moral hazard for Taser (Score 1) 99

As long as they're careful to never lose video that may become the subject of media attention, I suppose it's possible. That seems like a game that's guaranteed to end badly, though, because it's not possible to know what will and will not become big news. Some things are obviously big (e.g. deaths) but lesser issues may not blow up until some subsequent sequence of events.

It seems like a really risky business strategy for Taser... and if any journalist ever caught wind of the "soft points", or any whistleblower decided to out them, it'd generate a firestorm.

What you describe is very feasible in heavily manual processes, but automated systems operate in the way they're designed, without variation, and deliberate holes leave traces. With manual processes, the worst case is that the agency has to find a scapegoat, some low-level employee who was responsible for doing something and didn't. With automated systems, it's much harder to argue that the problem wasn't deliberate. It's easy enough the first time "It's a bug!", but it doesn't take long before people want to know why the bug hasn't been fixed.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 119

Really? https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/...

Note the complete lack of any discussion of artificial lighting. Heat is important for winter greenhouses in England, but with regard to light the only discussion is about shading during the summer. Moreover, I have a colleague who lives in a small town just north of Sheffield who gardens year-round in an un-lit greenhouse. He says the shorter days in the winter result in slower growth, and some plants like it more than others so he changes the mix of what he's growing seasonally. But he grows herbs and vegetables year-round.

If you go far enough north, lighting does become an issue for winter growing. For example, in Alaska: http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/p.... But that's pretty extreme. In Fairbanks the shortest day of the year is barely three hours long. London days don't get much less than 8 hours.

I'm not saying that LEDs couldn't help in northerly climes, but the article seems to say that using LEDs in a cave is more efficient somehow than using the sun. Which is ridiculous.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 108

The default gain may be poor, but it might be adjustable; it wouldn't surprise me at all if developers who were lax enough to not bother encrypting the feed also provided a low-level control interface over the same channel. It would be really convenient for debugging.

Even that doesn't really matter that much... do you really want a microphone in your house broadcasting what it hears? Exactly how much it hears may depend on where you are, what doors are open or closed, etc., but are you really sure it's never hearing anything you don't want broadcast?

And, more importantly, how many people who buy a baby monitor even think about the issue? Product designers should not build a product that requires their user to do that sort of security analysis. Especially since it's quite easy to make it a non-issue.

Comment Re:Cop video storage is a moral hazard for Taser (Score 1) 99

The other side of this argument is that while individual police agencies don't have to retrieve video very often (except perhaps for very large ones, like NYPD), Taser will be getting requests on a daily basis. If they fail to "find" a substantial portion of those videos, it's going to become obvious -- and public -- very quickly. And the story will be that they're failing to do the primary job for which the taxpayers are paying them tens or hundreds of millions of dollars annually. That in turn will generate tremendous pressure on police departments to dump them. If agencies do their own storage they have a certain degree of plausible deniability around their own technical failures. Taser won't have that, and agencies won't have plausible deniability around their decision to use Taser once it's been headline news that Taser routinely fails.

From Taser's perspective, I think that narrative is a pretty compelling argument for being very careful not to ever "lose" video. Some headlines could destroy their business very quickly. They could survive one or two rounds of such headlines, but once it's clear that they've had plenty of time to fix their operations and still fail, they'd be dead.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 108

You're missing the point. Credit card numbers were just one example. Unless you're comfortable broadcasting everything that goes on in your house, this is an issue.

Also, there's no need to actually have a person sit in full view of anyone. Just hide a repeater in the shrubbery.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 108

So, you're home in the evening and your wife calls "Hey, honey, can you give me the credit card number for something I'm buying online?" and you tell her the number. The baby monitor hears.

That's just one example, and not a particularly scary one. Use your imagination. It's not just about whether or not you're home, it's about what information is available inside your house that you don't want shared with random listeners.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 108

Bingo. So someone can hack the monitor and listen to my baby sleep or not sleep. Or even watch him sleeping. What exactly is the threat? What information can they really gain that is of use? That the sheets are green instead of blue?

They can see and hear a lot of details of activity inside the house, not just the baby. Whatever is in range of the camera and microphone.

Comment Re:Programmed behaviour is programmed behaviour. (Score 3, Insightful) 437

It's not a no-win situation. It just means that self-driving cars have to know when to break the rules. They can and should behave like the best of human drivers.

If you program the car to just account for assholes but still drive safely, then it will basically choke in situations like a four way stop in southern California where every other asshole will just muscle or roll their way through the stop.

The current programming of the car handles that situation. Less aggressively than a human would, but aggressively enough to assert its intention to go, and go.

To downgrade the human mind is bad theology. - C. K. Chesterton