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Comment: Re:Let this be a lesson (Score 1) 61

by tlhIngan (#48687757) Attached to: Sony PlayStation Network Back Up Now, Supposedly

I've been a fan of physical game carts/discs that are 100% playable offline. Getting a new PS4 or Xbox One that "bundles" a download code for a game is a rip off if you have to download the game and have it call home every time you want to play. So when the online component is down, you can't download or play the downloaded game since it can't phone home. That's ridiculous. I skipped the Xbox One and PS4 for reasons like this. Even more so: 10 years from now when the authentication server goes offline, your Xbox One or PS4 game is dead. Whereas, I can still pop in my favorite NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, PSOne, Saturn, DreamCast, GCN, and PS2 games without any worry for an internet connection. (And select PS3 and Xbox 360 games.) Vote with your money, people.

Uh, on both Xbox Live and PSN, there is offline play even on downloaded games. On Xbox Live, the console that buys the game and downloads it gets to play it offline without signing into Xbox Live. That license can be changed to a new console once a year. Of course, any console can play the game if the user is signed into Xbox Live.

For PSN, you can authorize a PS4 and that PS4 can play it offline as well. All other PS4s have to be signed in. You can change the authorized PS4 as well.

Comment: Re:How about mandatory felony sentences instead? (Score 4, Interesting) 315

by tlhIngan (#48683139) Attached to: Drunk Drivers in California May Get Mandated Interlock Devices

Actually, in a brave experiment, we've actually decriminalized DUIs - because finding DUI requires getting a felony conviction including all the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt rules and all that. It's a complex enough conviction that DUI convictions are low.

Instead, what happens is there's a system of fines which are civil in nature, and beyond the first you get your car impounded instantly for a day, then a week, and a month. And all you have to do is blow 0.05.

Far lower requirements to lock someone up for a day and it apparently has an effect. Getting a criminal conviction takes time and courts, giving people fines and raising their insurance and impounding their cars is more of a bylaw style offense and can be instantly implemented.

DO it enough times and the insurance company mandates interlocks, which for some is a death sentence because their license is marked as having to drive an interlocked vehicle. Which means they are no longer able to drive a company vehicle (because no company wants to pay for an interlock installation), be it a car, truck, bus, whatever.

And we're not talking about cheap fines - $400 is cheap, but impound, towing and other fees bring that up to $1000 or so.

That may be the way to do it - then add get your license suspended enough times and you lose it. Go through Driver's Ed and take the tests all over again. (We have graduated licensing, so that's another year of having to be supervised followed by a couple of years of solo but under heavy restrictions including zero tolerance for impaired driving and only a single passenger, etc).

Getting convictions is hard, cycling through people is a lot easier. And having to get to work without a car gets the message across. And having your insurance rates go up because they're told of the incident to which they can apply their own actuarial tables and jack up your rates. That also means a checkpoint can easily detain 10+ people in one night with little to no paperwork since no formal charges will be laid.

Comment: Re:Fuzzball definitions (Score 2) 140

by tlhIngan (#48678855) Attached to: Donald Knuth Worried About the "Dumbing Down" of Computer Science History

Entire field is a bit young and I always thought that 'computer science' is a bit awkward term. But IME everyone agrees that it's study of algorithms and their implementation in computing devices. It's basically applied math.

It's a more misunderstanding of science and engineering. Computer science is like other sciences - biology, physics, chemistry, etc. They're concerned about studying the theory of their branch of science, so for computer science, it's about computability - can you do something? And in what kind of time/space constraints?

But you don't ask a biologist to heal you, or a physicist to build you a bridge, or a chemist to manufacture gasoline. So you shouldn't ask a computer scientist to write you an app. Engineering is the application of science - and in more than a few places, the engineering degree is marked as applied science.

The computer engineer takes the research done by computer scientists and applies it with standard engineering compromises to produce something. Most people who do "computer science" actually do "computer engineering".

Want to see the differences illustrated more clearly? Try comparing the periodicals produced by computer science groups like the ACM, versus those by engineering groups like the IEEE.

Comment: Re:Here's a brilliant idea... (Score 2) 53

by tlhIngan (#48674553) Attached to: South Korea Says Nuclear Reactors Safe After Cyberattacks

Which is why USB ports should be disabled on computers that interact with the reactor.

And when something in the control system needs to be updated to handle a new piece of equipment, what are you going to do...?

Stuxnet has proven air-gaps are not invulnerable - and it used multiple vulnerabilities. It existed on a PC that was infected and merely infected a USB drive that was plugged in which then was plugged into a control PC used to reload PLCs.

Of course, that control computer was vulnerable because being air gapped, it wasn't updated to handle vulnerabilities so all it needed was ancient vulnerabilities.

It doesn't matter if it was a CD - the malware could ensure it got loaded on the CD as well so when it was stuck into the control PC, boom, infected.

Unless the control system is completely static and nothing is ever going to change on it, there has to be a way to update it. And guess what - that PC on the air-gapped network has to get data onto it. And since it's air-gapped, it will be vulnerable to 10+ year old vulnerabilities because it hasn't had a software update since it was first installed. Oh yeah, you could install updates, but that's a vulnerability because the way you get that data across the air-gap is a vulnerability.

And reasons for updating include general part obsolescence (you may be able to buy parts for 10 years, then what? Justify spending millions of dollars shutting down the factory, rip out the obsolete parts and replace the control system with a brand new one? Or just spend a few thousand, get the replacement part, and update the control system appropriately?)

Comment: Re:"Your eyes oscillate"?? (Score 5, Informative) 184

by tlhIngan (#48667547) Attached to: Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate

The whole eye. Our eyes actually cannot detect a static edge, only transitions. The reason we can see non-moving objects is that the oscillations of the eye provide the transitions. There's a simple experiment from long ago which illustrates this vividly: put a black square on a white background, track a subject's eye motion and move that target with the eye motion so that the image is always hitting the retina at the same location, and voila, the subject cannot see that target.

The other reason is the "sensors" we have are quite poor - the eyeball itself is actually a very low resolution device - the high resolution center part of the eye covers such a narrow field of view that it's practically useless if it was a fixed camera, while the peripheral vision is so low res it's unusable.

Instead, what happens is we evolved a gigantic amount of wetware to process the image into a high-resolution image we perceive - the brain does a lot of visual processing, and the eyes rapidly move (or oscillate) to move the sharp high-res center vision around to give you a much higher "virtual resolution" than the actual Mk. 1 Eyeball can achieve.

Of course, this visual processing comes at a price - optical illusions abound because it's very easy to trick the wetware into seeing things that aren't there, because the information is often interpolated, shifted in time, etc.

Comment: Re: Obviously (Score 1) 361

by tlhIngan (#48667473) Attached to: Study: Police Body-Cams Reduce Unacceptable Use of Force

But what will be the reaction of the "activists" when these cameras capture indisputable footage of, say, somebody like Michael Brown launching an unprovoked physical attack against a police officer?

Will they actually admit that maybe the thug involved wasn't such a "good boy", and that maybe it's incorrect to claim "but he didn't do anything wrong"?

Will they just repeatedly deny what the footage shows?

The activists will be activists.

HOWEVER, if they repeatedly deny the scenario that the video shows, it discredits THEM, and the general public would regard them as whackos that need a reality check.

And activist video can be shown in context - often times when something happens those who capture it only show the aftermath, and not the entire scenario. Being able to see before and after what activists record is extremely useful.

So yeah, perhaps the video you see on TV shows Brown getting shot. Then the source video the body cam shows what happened before the camera started recording putting things in even more context.

Comment: Re:Many DDR3 modules? (Score 2) 138

by tlhIngan (#48667425) Attached to: Many DDR3 Modules Vulnerable To Bit Rot By a Simple Program

Data sheets now days are not avalable to the public

Datasheets ARE publicly available. However, they're for the actual DRAM ICs themselves, and not of the modules.

There are only a few DRAM manufacturers out there - Samsung, Hynix, Elpida, Micron are among them.

Samsung Computing DRAM (they also have Graphics DRAM and others). Some of their newest chips don't have datasheets yet, but that'll be forthcoming. The older ones in production do, however.


Micron (and Elpida).

These are all generally available. Since the only real difference between them is a few timing numbers, they're not generally a huge secret - it's all governed by JEDEC standards anyhow.

Memory modules are just collections of these chips so they can be generalized to what you buy in the store for your PC.

Comment: Re:I'm starting to think it's this simple... (Score 1) 63

by tlhIngan (#48667215) Attached to: De-escalating the Android Patent War

Still, if you have a patent, you don't need to sell it. You can license the patent. That what the whole idea was about. So you could make a great smartphone invention, have a patent, and Samsung and Apple would pay you money to use the patent without you having to sell it.

You can't sell a patent. They're not really "owned". (This always comes up, as if /. posters refuse to learn about IP law just like non-tech people refuse to learn about computers. Hrm...).

Look at any patent and you'll see an inventor's list. That's who the patent belongs to. They're not transferrable.

Instead, what IS transferrable is usage rights, aka licensing. And a lot of the time, the use rights are exclusive, because as an inventor, you control who can use it (the monopoly to use the patented invention is the inventor's).

Of course, given a patent takes at least $10,000 to apply for and more if you need to defend and back-and-forth and patent attorneys, what happens is two fold.

First, companies have an "assignment of invention" clause in their employment contracts - which at a minimum says anything you work on during working hours belongs to them. Including anything patented. Or in other words, they get a right to use your invention.

Second, because a company is sponsoring your patent application, well, they make sure they get an exclusive license to your patent.

So the patent's yours but by applying, your company already gets a right to use it, and by taking the company's money, that right becomes exclusive - you exclusively licensed the patent for them to use. And usually, that exclusive license you gave them is non-exclusive to them to re-license those rights to third parties. So as part of the company, they can license your patent to others.

And that's really what gets "bought" and "sold" - the exclusive right to the patent. The original inventors, who have to be real people who worked on the patent (and more than one has been invalidated because inventors were either left off the list, or were because an inventor didn't really "invent" it, but merely worked with the technology) still "own" the patent, but their right to license has been extinguished due to other contractual agreements in place.

Comment: Re:what's wrong with ifconfig? (Score 1, Informative) 164

by tlhIngan (#48660355) Attached to: NetworkManager 1.0 Released After Ten Years Development

On a dev system, or a server, you'll want to remove it. Bet let's not forget the desktop users :)

And that's really the problem with Linux. It's a great server OS - but in the end, as a desktop OS it just stinks because all the developers scream when you try to "complicate" matters using tools like systemd, NetworkManager, PulseAudio which are essential to make a modern desktop OS.

For networking you need to consider the mobile use case - home user is at home, and firewall is set up to allow services so they can stream their music and whatnot all over the network. They move their laptop to a wifi hotspot, and now the network stack should reconfigure itself to the hotspot. But oh, the firewall rules need to resync because the home user isn't at home and is in a public place, so maybe having those services exposed is a bad idea. (In an ideal world, you'd really have NetworkManager tell systemd or init to shut down those esrvices).

That's a common scenario - user moves between trusted and untrusted networks, and something needs to detect what kind of network it is, then manage the firewall, DHCP and other things altogether.

Perhaps if you're lucky, it's switching between Ethernet and WiFi, which means you can statically configure the whole thing, but more often than not, it's on the same interface. Or maybe it's both - a laptop user connected to a public guest network AND a private wired network. Or vice-versa. Or maybe both networks are the same.

Ditto audio - while a server doesn't need audio, a desktop user does, and it has to handle the variety of APIs to access audio, the need to provide for multiple audio routing paths because as audio devices appear and disappear, the preferred routing may change - e.g., switch between onboard speaker+mic to Bluetooth headset for communications WHILE still playing audio (movie or music) through stereo speakers plugged into the line out jack. Then when Bluetooth disappears, mix communications audio (or mute the movie/music) if a call comes in. Audio mixing is important for multiple audio sources - perhaps you have a few YouTube video tabs open and are listening to something else - it's a PITA to stop that just to get audio for YouTube because it needs to release the audio device.

It's amazing how, despite Linux being an advanced multi-tasking OS, a lot of things are still stuck in the single-tasking world that developers think is all you need. Maybe a decade ago, but modern day PCs are so much more capable.

Comment: Re:A Crock (Score 1) 19

by tlhIngan (#48652879) Attached to: Tor Warns of Possible Disruption of Network Through Server Seizures

Between TOR and Bitcoin, you would think these things were designed by security services like the NSA or GCHQ. TOR is slow, onerous, and never provided reliable anonymity. If anything, the low network throughput was part of the design to slow the dissemination of large files like government documents and child pornography.

Technically, TOR was designed by the US Navy. Not quite the NSA, but still, government designed.

And the DS really are for exit nodes - taking the servers is the last thing I 'd do. I'd rather run a bunch of exit nodes then force the DS to route traffic over them since he who controls exit nodes has the power to spy, modify and do lots of other things with traffic.

Because you know sooner or later someone's going to log into their Google, Amazon, Facebook or other thing like their bank and completely de-anonymize themselves.

Comment: Re:Marketing? (Score 1) 239

by tlhIngan (#48652601) Attached to: Anonymous Claims They Will Release "The Interview" Themselves

But this specific tactic doesn't make sense. Too much incriminating evidence about Sony's own underhanded practices has been released by the hackers. Too many of Sony's own people have been put at risk because of this. Sony might be evil, and they might be stupid, but they are not this spiteful.

Perhaps a marketing manager for Sony decided to exploit the hack as a marketing maneuver? They got hacked, well, why not capitalize on it?

The PR on this turd is incredible - you simply cannot buy this amount of free publicity. With even POTUS calling on its release, it doesn't matter anymore.

Once the hack news dies down, release the movie and make up some excuse saying the FBI let it through or something, starting hype round #2.

Sometimes you just have a situation ripe for the picking.

Comment: Re:Satellite not needed (Score 1) 115

by tlhIngan (#48650491) Attached to: Cuba Says the Internet Now a Priority

There is no "national firewall." You may be thinking of China. Or more likely not thinking at all. It's fascinating how people will invent or repeat the most badly-informed (I'm too polite to say stupidest) things about Cuba and think they're intelligent.

Well, a large number of countries have some form of censorship or surveillance system for the internet. A completely free internet is available to few people.

So there may not be any firewall now, but that doesn't prevent them from implementing it later.

Comment: Re:Do not give lasers as gifts to children (Score 2) 114

by tlhIngan (#48650481) Attached to: Finland Announces an Anti-Laser Campaign For Air Traffic

And when you do let children use a laser you own, make sure you supervise them closely.

I have a great t-shirt from Meredith Instruments that reads "DANGER! LASER RADIATION! Do not expose beam to remaining eye."

Sadly, most of the arrests have been people in the age of majority - perhaps they had the maturity of children, but they aren't children. Plus, given how expensive they are (several hundred bucks), it generally isn't a children's toy.

As for those claiming that it's not a problem because no one's lost a life yet - really? Aviation already is built upon the blood of many people, some of whom lost their lives over something as stupid as a light bulb.

And no, it may not be a direct cause, but it may be the last link of a chain of events that leads to an accident. Every mishap has been a chain - if any one of those things were different, it wouldn't have happened. Perhaps the pilot is in bad weather already trying hard to find the runway and then a flash comes across the cockpit. He blinks, it goes away, and he continues, but what he thinks is the runway is a after glow spot (similar to how a flashbulb causes temporary spots) and boom, crashes the airplane into a building along the glidepath.

And perhaps someone you know is on that plane.

Comment: Re:What are the implications for the textbook mark (Score 1) 170

by tlhIngan (#48640725) Attached to: Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

Since I don't know your specific situation, I could be completely misinterpreting what you mean. But it seems you have 0% "figure out the problem".

Math isn't a subject that has to be learned the way foreign language or geography has to be learned. If you don't have something described to you in a book, then you absolutely need another reference to learn most subjects (such as a TA, Lecture, or Internet).

But with math you never need a reference for anything but definitions, and most definitions should be obvious anyway. There is always a first person to solve a math problem, and he had no references.

Like I said, I could be completely misreading your situation, but from what you wrote, it sounds like if there isn't a template for how to solve every single problem type that you give up. If all you know how to do is follow methods and change numbers around here and there, then you aren't learning math.

The greatest instruction anyone can give a person who pursues math is simply to ask a question that they can solve if they try. Many of us who study math seriously love nothing more than to be given a problem that's just barely out of reach.

That and Physics is the same way.

It's probably why those subjects are "hard" because they require creativity and inspiration to actually do - it's problem solving at its simplest level and it's what those in the engineering fields thrive on.

Anyhow, if you're struck trying to do math problems, you have to realize that they all follow the same pattern. After the subject is introduced, the first few problems will be solved by direct application of the lesson. Then the next few will be ones applying the current lesson and previous lessons. It all accumulates until the final set of problems involves a bunch of skills from the text, from your past math education, and so on.

And if you're struggling, the goal is not do just the required problems, but to start at the beginning of the problem set.and do them all. Yes, it's beyond the assignment, but you have to realize that the assignment is just the tip of the iceberg - a good prof already tells you that the problem set they assign is hard, and to really do it, a good student needs to do the entire set.

Same goes for physics problems. The first few questions directly apply equations and formulas from the chapter. Then the next ones apply several concepts together until you get to the mega one that pulls in multiple methods. And many even have multiple ways of tackling the problem that are correct. (Previous problems will lead y ou down each path thent he final one lets you decide which one you use). On an exam, that's a lifesaver because it lets you try both ways and if you don't get the same answer, you messed up.

The goal is to realize that the text is giving you the tools, the probme is to string those tools together. It's like programming or engineering.

And sometimes the most satisfying problems are the ones that look like they're impossible,but when you start realizing what you have, where you need to go, and little brain power and then AHA!

Hell, one trick I do is you write down everything you know that was given in the problem. Then figure out what you need to answer, and figure out what gets you there. And draw pictures, schematics, whatever to illustrate those factors you know, what you don't, and the pieces you do have. And the pieces that are implied

Comment: Re:How? (Score 5, Informative) 83

by tlhIngan (#48623789) Attached to: Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware

This malware relies on weakness in wetware rather than software. No general-purpose operating system can save you from PEBKAC issues, at most partially mitigate them. Unix-style execute bit rather than Windows' extensions reduces the number of vulnerable idiots by like 2-3 orders of magnitude, but you can bet that if the webpage kindly provides instructions, a good number of marks will still manage to get infected.

It's really just another form of Dancing Pigs social engineering attack. You give the user a plausible reason for downloading and installing software, and you'll find users go out of t heir way to install it.

Doesn't matter the OS. And it can be anything - be it porn, a "private porn browser" or other such tool and any OS is vulnerable. (Yes, "private porn browser" - download now and browse your porn in privacy and even your wife won't find out...).

If you have a procedure with 10 parameters, you probably missed some.