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Comment Re:I'm going for the Pi... (Score 1) 121

The big reason to go with the Pi is just like going with the Arduino - community.

Community support is essential, and even more than that, continual community support. It's one thing to make a cheap board, another one to make a cheap board and get a community going around it. And quite another if you want that community to not die out after a couple of years.

The RPi community looks to be an ongoing community - even this new board is supposed to look similar to the old boards so support should be ongoing.

Comment Re:What scares me here (Score 1) 37

is that reading and exploiting data that's a mere 25 years old requires almost archeological-like recovery and reconstruction techniques. Compare that to a thousand year old book that's usually pretty much readily readable today.

it's called bit-rot and it takes place in two ways.

First is the media rots - and 25 years is a really long time - most magnetic media, and even pressed optical media (CDs) have already started failing inside of 10 years. Especially finicky things like floppies. Basically the media degrades such that it is no longer readable.

Next is format rot. Where format is both physical and logical. Physical format rot happens when the technology used to access the media is gone - working units either are unavailable or they are all broken because some critical part is gone. There's lots of these - Zip, SyQuest, MO, and many others where the drives are getting increasingly scarcer, and many tape drives are obsolete.

Logical rot happens when the file formats are obsolete and no program other than the original can read or write the file. This too is a big one, and unless it's a common format, there's a good chance it too can be obsolete very quickly - usually well under a decade.

Comment Re:WD Black the 3rd most broken item (Score 1) 104

What strikes me as far more interesting is that people bother with retailers when it comes to WD RMA. WD has maybe the most hassle-free RMA service in the industry, the last thing I'd want to go through with them is the usual "take it to the retailer, wait 4-6 weeks for replacement" spiel.

Not really. Seagate used to have the best - for $10 you not only get an advanced shipment drive, but you also get a label to return the old one - which I always used because $10 is less than half what return shipping is. And Seagate's RMA tracking worked.

With WD, I tried advanced shipping once - and a month later, they still haven't updated their RMA system with the fact that the drive is there. I emailed them proof of shipment (I used FedEx and had tracking and everything), they manually marked it as returned as the drive did arrive and was signed for. Three months later, I get an email saying they got the drive. WTF? And maybe it was a one off, but no, I had another drive fail, returned it (regular RMA this time). Again, nothing - until I started calling them and gave them again all the shipping information. This time a couple of weeks later they shipped the drive, and a month later, they "found" the drive I sent in.

I wish both would just offer an RMA system that works and allow you to buy a label from them - Seagate for me worked the best for RMA because they always got it shortly after it arrives and for $10, I didn't really care about that since the return shipping would cost me $25 normally, so I'd save $15, and the drive would be processed quickly. Alas, I'm told those days are gone.

Comment Re:Will Apple be able to spec/source a good OLED? (Score 3) 224

Perhaps that's why Apple isn't going OLED until 2018 - OLEDs have/had issues and Apple believes in 2018 they can get good ones.

Sure Apple doesn't implement the latest and greatest all the time - they often wait for technology to mature to the point where it meets existing quality. OLED displays are like that - they're bright and vibrant, but their color accuracy is often crap because the gamut is exaggerated on one end. And they're nice and people love the oversaturated look, but again, not accurate.

Then there's the whole RGB pixel versus PenTile displays which cause all sorts of resolution issues and color issues.

Also, since LCDs have hit 100% sRGB gamut, the next target is apparently AdobeRGB, where OLEDs are able to get 97%. Perhaps in 2018 Apple can make it 100% AdobeRGB, producing a wide gamut and accurate color.

OLEDs may have been on other phones for years, but that doesn't mean it's a technology that makes it "acceptable" to Apple - it's just a technology. Apple may be a latecomer, but when they do that, it usually means they've been waiting for the technology to mature and fulfill their requirements.

Comment Re: Don't pirate software (Score 1) 95

That's dumb. GPL covers the distribution rights, so if you're concerned about that, don't distribute GPL software. GPL places no restrictions on simply using the software.


AGPL certainly puts restrictions on just using it - if you use it, you have to make the source available even if you don't distribute it. (It's designed for web applications).

And you also have to be careful that the output is not GPL'd - compiler compilers like bison and yacc have special exceptions in their license because they emit code that was from GPL code - the exception being that the emitted code is NOT GPL.

Then there's GPLv3 code which is incompatible with GPLv2 code (v2-only). A lot of places are scared of the GPLv3 because of what it can do, so many places will grudgingly allow GPLv2, but GPLv3 is out of the question.

And yes, you can also "pirate" GPL open-source - we call those people "GPL Violators" instead of "pirates" though. (Piracy is copyright violation. Copyright violation happens because if you don't agree to the GPL, it falls under standard "all rights reserved" copyright. Since you didn't want to obey the GPL, the code is no longer GPL but standard copyright and distribution restricted.)

Comment Re:Let them lease, but not screw with sales (Score 2) 244

It's in the definition of the word SALE.
If I buy something I OWN it. That means I get to do with it what I want, barring government restrictions. The shcmuck that sold it to me does not have the right to say "HEY! You can't DO THAT!"

They gave up that right when they sold it to me.

When I sell you a house, I can't then complain and say "Now wait a second, I may have sold you that house, but it's still mine and I don't like that new garage you are building!"

Correct. The real reason we see this is twofold - first, because of manufacturing and second, because of fraud.

The use of adhesives in assembly should be obvious - adhesives make for quicker assembly, and when you're making millions of widgets, screws get in the way.

Warranty fraud is a huge issue, and it's one thing a site like iFixit conveniently ignore. What happens here is a user may get curious and want to take a peek inside their device, so they try to open it. Usually things go well and they put it back together successfully, but sometimes they break it. Then they go and try to claim "it just stopped working".

And I say iFixit ignore it because first of all, the manufacturer will then have to implement countermeasures to protect against this. But it also means if a site offers repair services, then they need to protect themselves as well - imagine selling repair services and now you have to fix someone's curiosity. There is no sane resolution - it'll be the user/customer vs. the repair shop.

Proprietary screws also help prevent this as if a user is willing to buy a screwdriver from iFixit, they're probably skilled enough to actually fix it. But the vast majority of users are not able to do this. And iFixit doesn't serve the general public - just the few people that care.

And that's the real problem.

Comment Re:What changes? (Score 1) 48

What changes is very little. If a telemarketer is honest he'll probably be playing by the rules already - however these people are scammers. They're not going to suddenly start changing the way they operate because the FTC said "stop, or we'll say stop again!". It's not like most of the marks these people are going after will even be aware of such changes.,

Well, you can easily run a PSA on "If someone asks you for money via Western Union/etc., it isn't legit, so just hang up".

And that's likely the point.Because those methods of payment are less trackable and the authorities are helpless to deal with victims because of it. But if you use a credit card, all of a sudden a lot more of the transaction is trackable.

So first, the marks have one more tool to help identify a scam, and should the scammers try to use a legitimate service, the tracking is a lot better.

Comment Re: Introduction (Score 4, Interesting) 207

I think you're underestimating the marketing opportunity of a recall. They're just going to put a wrench on the bolt, that costs nothing. Yeah, some minimal labor costs. BUT...who goes through the pain of taking their car to a dealership without getting everything else it needs serviced? Or just buying a whole new car, which isn't uncommon, especially if someone can afford the 80+k to buy one in the first place.

Something tells me Tesla will come ahead on this one.

Well, Tesla is quite different - you can buy an annual $600/year service plan that covers everything except tires, and for a bit more, you can have it that Tesla will come to you to service it.

The thing is, an ICE takes a lot of maintenance - between stuff like engine oil and other fluids, there's a bit of tuning to keep things in shape. An EV is different - there's actually very little in the power train that requires regular servicing - so much so that users may go for years between tune-ups (Tesla recommends users come in at least once a year to get service and replace consumables like brakes). Most ICE service schedules range from every 3 months to every 6 months.

And yes, Tesla will probably come out ahead - I mean, look at the other recalls out there - between Toyota's sudden acceleration, GM's ignition switch and many others, either the company didn't act until forced to, or they still don't act, even when there are multiple deaths attributed to the flaw.

So they get a lot of PR over it - "we're recalling every Tesla S to make sure the seatbelts are bolted on correctly, even though there was only one failure and everyone lived, and the government isn't making us do it, but we will because it's the right thing to do."

Comment Re:The life of a test pilot ... oh wait. (Score 1) 96

I was gonna say, "well, seeing what happens when you go too fast is part of a test pilot / driver's job", until the article mentioned bringing kids along. Ugh, that's reprehensible.

Well it depends, because part of the TGV tests in the final phase is public demonstration. It happened in Japan - their newest bullet train was running on test tracks, yet many people lined up to buy tickets to be the first to ride it (it can go over 500kph) because while it will take many years to build or upgrade the tracks to support the new trains, this is an opportunity see the future now.

So just because it's a test train on a test track doesn't mean it was being tested. Likely it was a public demonstration showing the future capabilities of the TGV that will take 20+ years to fully bear out. And the public loves this sort of thing - to be the first to see the future of the trains and to ride them. And likely the test demonstration is something well within the envelope of safe - you're not testing anything, but showing it off.

Of course, what it really shows is that humans are human and stupid mistakes still happen. And the new trains still lack proper warning equipment when autobrakes and speed limits are disabled or exceeded.

Comment Re:GM producers are shooting themselves in the foo (Score 1) 514

. Does the food that you purchase identify the conglomerate which entirely owns the folksy subsidiary whos name appears on the product?

That's because they're not required to. I presume most of the population would be shocked to find out that 99% of the stuff they buy at the supermarket comes from approximately 12 companies. All of them recognizable.

Companies behind the brands.

(That image was created as part of an Oxfam report, Behind the Brands).

Comment Re:Pure hype (Score 1) 67

It's a great story, but her invention was never used. It's really a huge stretch it really relates at all to current spread-spectrum technology. Even if you think it is related, spread-spectrum as developed did not base their ideas on her invention, and it's unlikely they were even aware of it.


Hedy Lamarr's spread spectrum, called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) is used in Bluetooth and early WiFi (802.11, no "b") is the first known implementation. Basically, Hedy based it on a piano roll used by player pianos in order for the Navy to control torpedoes without them being jammed.

The other form of spread spectrum, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) is much more modern - its patents are owned by our dear friend Qualcomm, who used it to create CDMA as an alternative to FDMA and TDMA mechanisms.

Qualcomm owns DSSS because they basically invented it, and they're quite recent.

FHSS is still spread spectrum, and it still accomplishes the goal of spreading the signal out and interference on a channel only affects the signal for a little while.

FHSS is easier to do if your communications are channelized and you can switch between channels easily (which is why it's older). DSSS requires more computation and initial acquisition of the stream is a lot harder since you're not entirely sure where in the chip code you are so you not only have to pick the right PRNG seed, but you need to advance the code until your correllator starts detecting a signal.

(The chip codes are carefully selected so the correllator only produces a noise output if the chip code is wrong).

Comment Re:Initial Thought (Score 5, Informative) 85

My initial thought was that if Math can be performed that produces the same results Encrypted vs Unencrypted, is that it isn't very well encrypted. My understanding is that the better encryption techniques approaches what looks like static (randomness).

It's strong. Very strong.

Problem is, there's a tradeoff in time/speed and operations you can do. There are general algorithms that let you do a wide variety of operations, but they are very slow - on the order of a million times slower than unencrypted.

Faster algorithms usually restrict the operations you can do. on the data, and performance is almost equal that of unencrypted.

Note that you don't simply say "I want to add these two numbers" , encrypt them, then just do a simple add - no, the operation after encryption may be a multiplication, or other operation.

And this is actually very useful - because it lets you store critical data in the cloud, and perform manipulations of that data in the cloud, without the cloud provider having to have the encryption key. If the data is stolen, the hacker gets encrypted garbage.

So the current operation is database - you put up an encrypted data in the cloud, and the cloud provider runs an encrypted database service. You can perform limited queries, and the cloud provider will return you the encrypted rows as encrypted blobs to you. You use the key (kept onsite for security), and marvel that you just did a transaction in the cloud, the cloud provider executed the operation, and you got back the rows that you wanted, and at no time other than on your PC was it ever in plaintext.

You could be more fancy - say you want to add up a column - you tell the database server to add it up (encrypted), and the final result is sent back, as encrypted data. You use your key and get your answer.

That's the primary use case for this sort of encryption. Do it right and even in house database can be completely encrypted. So stuff like health information and banking records will never be in plain text until you need it so breaches won't be as harmful.

Comment Re:Money (Score 1) 337

my thoughts exactly. Apple is all about avoiding product cannibalization. Thus the super price tag and performance disparities on the Mac Pro vs iMacs, iPad/Mini vs iPad Pro, MacBook Air vs MacBook pro 13, MacBook Pro 13 vs MacBook Pro 15, and even MacBook Pro 15 vs MacBook Pro 15 with dedicated graphics. The only notable exception is the iPhones standard and plus, but hey, they still do the price disparity on the amazing price differences for storage capacity on those.

Uh, no. Apple cannibalizes themselves a lot.

I mean, iPods are pretty much dead - killed by the iPhone and the like. Apple saw that coming and didn't hang onto the iPod. The only reason Apple even sells iPods is because there's still a few people who buy them, but the amount of time that goes between updates shows it's not Apple's priority to waste development time and money updating them regularly.

And the iPad pro pricing is enough to eat into MacBook sales. Even the high end iPhones cost as much as iPads.

And Apple knows it happens - it's why the iPad Air 2 is still around and there's no iPad Air 3 out.

There are no sacred horses for Apple - if the iPad pro is the way to go, they'll develop it and let the low-end Macbooks rot.

And the price tag for Macs is deliberate - they're not wanting to enter the spiral of race to the bottom. And you could argue the PC industry went that way and headed back - because everyone did an Apple and started releasing decent laptops again at higher (Apple-like) price points. Apple didn't follow the crowd to sub-$500 laptops, while the PC industry slavishly eeked every dollar out of it. So much so Intel had to spend millions of dollars convincing manufacturers to release higher end products to compete with the MacBook Air and that higher margins are worth it.

Comment Re:Too many self-absorbed people (Score 1) 119

It's one of the reasons that the smartphone is blamed for making people stupid.

No, there are just as many stupid or smart people around as before. The unfortunate part is that things like computers and smartphones now put technology in the hands of the stupid, so now we have to listen to them bitch, whine, and say stupid things.

Well, wasn't one of the primary goals of the internet is to make everyone a publisher?

Of course, I'm sure we HOPED people would use the communications ability of the Internet for good-for-humanity reasons like rooting out censorship or oppression, but in the end, we forgot it's really a great publishing medium for the idiotic to post stupid stuff.

So yeah, we opened the ability for the masses to communicate. It's just the masses don't really care about "good for humanity" and really just care that their Amazon package arrived 2 hours late, or their food wasn't hot enough or other stupid crap. Heck, companies have to attend to every little triviality ("first world problems") now instead of being able to take care of the more important issues. Like instead of being able to devote resources to handling the customer that has a legitimate complaint, now they have to handle that customer amongst the 1000 others who are complaining they were short changed a penny or some crap like that.

Comment Re:I just want to charge at the current specs (Score 2) 75

Part right. The spec allows the delivery of max 1.5A by detection of shorted D+/D- lines. (the iDevices don't comply with this). The spec does not allow at all for measuring resistances despite the fact that Sony, Apple, Samsung, etc all implement this in their chargers. But quite critically at least some of them (Samsung) correctly implement enumeration of the charger to determine the maximum current draw, as per the standard.

And the reason is, guess what? Shorting D+/D- says UP TO 1.5A.

Which means really, you can't draw that much anyways because if the user plugs you into a device that only provides 500mA, guess what? You can only draw that.

Which is why I don't see why the USB folks didn't take a page from Apple and use their spec, because shoring D+/D- says absolutely nothing about how much current you can draw. And I've seen rather ... explosive ... results from devices that tried to draw 1.5A from a charger incapable of doing so.

At one point, it was 500mA. At another point, it was 800mA. Now it's 1.5A.

As a spec, it sucks - it means I can't tell how much current I can draw. And there's way too many made-in-china crap with a USB port that makes it risky to assume you can draw 1.5A from them. If you say the user must use the same charger with the device, that eliminates the whole reason to standardize.

At least the Apple spec tells you electrically. And there are many devices where it says "2A" on the plate but the resistors say 500mA.