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Comment Re:ZTE Maven specs, not noted in the story summary (Score 1) 182

If it is possible to carry extra batteries, fully charged, there are circumstances where that is convenient. For example, when hitchhiking through Europe, and staying a week or two in a city, it is possible to get a local SIM so that people you meet have a local number they can call.

The problem is "how do you keep those extra batteries charged". Which is one of the reasons why non-replaceable batteries started taking over - first, the vast vast vast majority of users don't have extra batteries, and all will probably tell you they don't even know where to buy one right now if you needed it.

Second, unlike the early days of cellphones which came with charging docks, charging spare batteries is a serious PITA requiring manual intervention that for most people, will never happen.

E.g., you change the battery on your phone, so you have a dead battery. You then put your phone on charge at home. A couple of hours later you then have to go to your phone, swap out the batteries and charge the dead spare you have. Great if you've got the discipline to do it, but most people forget and now you have a charged battery and a dead one. And it's likely you'll forget the next day as well.

Some premium phones do have charging dock accessories so you can avoid this needless manual intervention midway through charging by putting the spare in and charging both simultaneously using a spare charger. (And often, the dock serves as a convenient holder to keeping the battery protected).

I've done it. My old phone came with 2 spare batteries - and several nasty bugs that caused it to drain them quickly. I carried the phone and its two spares with me. More often than not, the two spares were generally discharged because I kept forgetting to swap the batteries again to charge the dead ones.

I now just use an external pack, which I can charge at the same time I charge my phone - put phone on charge, put pack on charge, forget all about it. And if I forget to charge the phone (and pack), the pack holds charge to recharge my phone. But I'm far more likely to put my phone (and pack) on charge together than to remember I need to swap batteries after a few hours of charging.

Comment Re:And your favorite, hobby laser cutter is... (Score 1) 25

Is this a topic for those with access to the university's shop with the $100,000 laser all the students get to use for free, or is there an actual CO2 laser that can cut 1/4 or 3/8" delrin and plywood that's affordable for occasional home use?

Or a makerspace/hackerspace, where a laser cutter is pretty much standard equipment.

Scoff at the maker movement all you want, but the creation of dedicated spaces with a wide variety of tools (from 3D printers and laser cutters and CNC machines to basic hand tools, sewing machines and craft tools. Sure it's shared shop space, but still, if you're into these things, you'd know where you can get access to them.

And if not, there are plenty of companies who will laser-cut stuff for you.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 4, Insightful) 108

The problem is that most people do not think about security and thus will not demand that in products. So the market place will not demand such.

Until someone manages to get on TV and show how easy it is to spy on children that way, then you'll see consumers demanding security.

The problem is the consumer doesn't know how easy it is for someone that is not them to access their camera. And you'll see immediate change because it's all about the kids.

What needs to happen is media attention

Comment Re:Nope.FCC application form: "protected from dd-w (Score 1) 239

That would be reasonable, perhaps, but it's not the approach the FCC is taking. The FCC instructions (linked below) require all applicants (manufacturers) to:

            Describe in detail how the device is protected
from ÃoeflashingÃ
              and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT.

So indeed the rule they have proposed is to explicitly require that manufacturers prevent the installation of DD-WRT.

Perhaps it's an example showing that DD-WRT does not do any enforcement of radio transmissions? I mean, DD-WRT will happily let you use illegal WiFi channels (e.g., 13, which is Japan only), so they want to enforce that hey, if your unit is sold in North America, it only uses 1-11 or whatever the complex mess is on the 5GHz band, and no matter what third-party firmware you install, that is the plan in force.

The problem being that DD-WRT and the like have been pretty much letting anyone use anything, which is what the FCC is going after.

Comment Re:The market for this (Score 1) 62

A month ago, my department at work held a golf outing (I did not attend, but they are remarkably popular here). Over 70 people participated. Over the course of that Friday, three golf carts were rolled, one badly enough that the driver ended up with a broken arm and had to be carted to the ER.

Several engineers are now permanently banned from that course, and we may end up not having any more golf outings. So there is definitely a market for self-driving golf carts.

The downside, of course, is that they may well end up designed by the idiots who rolled them in the first place.

It's actually remarkably easy to roll a golf cart. The center of mass is exceptionally high - it's basically the center of mass of the people on board (the battery and motor of a golf cart do little to lower it).

And high center of masses on a relatively narrow base mean it's really quite tippy and trivially easy to roll, especially if you go over a hill too quickly.

An autonomous golf cart may actually have enough sensors to detect when the center of mass is about to exceed its base and try to correct that situation.

Of course, that assumes the engineers behind it understand basic kinematics...

Comment Re:Poor example (Score 2) 437

As it turns out, we do. A Google Self Driving Car and a cyclist on a fixed gear bike met at a 4-way stop. The cyclist was doing a track stand (staying upright on the peddles, sometimes peddling backwards and forwards a small ammount) instead of balancing on a foot. This caused the Google car to think the cyclist was going to enter the intersection after the car had started moving, causing it to stop and "wait" for the cyclist, which by this point had "stopped", which the car took to mean that he (the cyclist) was waiting for the car to go (which was actually the case), and so the car would start moving again until the cyclist started his next forward motion to balance himself.

Which to be honest, is what should happen.

After all, I come from a place where cyclists routinely blow through stop signs (doesn't matter if it's a 4-way stop, or a regular 2-way stop), red lights are suggestions and basically the rules of the road aren't followed. Any driver who wishes to not get in an accident pretty much anticipates the cyclist to basically play chicken with a car.

Someone doing a track stand would basically halt traffic because all the drivers assume they're going to blow the stop sign, even along a major road.

Comment Re:No Apple (Score 2) 98

If these parties all decided to use whatever codec came out of this, and Apple choose to stay out, it'll be Apple's loss when Netflix, YouTube and the rest start showing messages about "your Apple computer/phone is not able to use this site, please upgrade"...

To their peril. Despite Android outselling iOS 4:1 or more, Android traffic is basically even with iOS, and unfortunately, iOS is also the platform of choice for those with money.

If Netflix doesn't work with iOS, users are more apt to blame Netflix than iOS. Ditto YouTube and others, especially since they work now. Breaking that will cause people to say "Netflix worked yesterday, today it doesn't. Netflix must have done something". And indeed they did.

Anyhow, h.264 is unlikely to die anytime soon - the real reason for this alliance is the mess that's become of HEVC licensing with two different and non-comprehensive patent pools. Whereas with h.264, patent licensors paid per unit until they hit a cap - it's unlimited after that (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Netflix, Amazon and others just pay the cap), and streaming is free as long as customers can view the stream without paying (so ads are OK).

The problem is, a lot of the HEVC patent holders were presented with similar terms for HEVC by MPEG-LA, and they wanted out. Specifically, they hated the cap, they hated free streaming, and they wanted to move on.

Doesn't take a genius to figure out that those properties enabled the mass uptake of h.264.

Comment Re:good news (Score 1) 48

I don't understand why manufacturers insist on bundling their own crappy firmware anyway...

It always has less features than dd-wrt, costs them money to develop and maintain (which they then try to minimize, thus making the firmware even worse), and generates bad publicity when their corner cutting invariably comes back to bite them in the ass through security holes and bad publicity...
They would all be much better off just bundling dd-wrt and using the money they would have spent on development to contribute towards the project and ensure good support for their devices.

Because a lot of the stuff is proprietary to the chipset. DD-WRT and others get the "open source" versions of that code, which for WiFi often means lower throughput, and on the Ethernet side, again, lowered speeds as the accelerators aren't used.

It really boils down to the fact that most of the stuff is made by Broadcom, and they're basically a proprietary company. What little they make open-source is generally poorly performing

Sometimes you get lucky in that Broadcom provides the binary modules as part of the package, so you can get full speed Ethernet and WiFi, but they're binary blobs so you can't peek inside them to see if certain features are supported.

Anyhow, Netgear does have a little open-source support - they do have "Open Source Routers" which do have DD-WRT or Tomato or other firmware available, and I believe they actually support this configuration - their web site is generally up to date on which routers are "open" and have supported DD-WRT and which ones don't. http://www.myopenrouter.com/

Asus generally provides source code and there's a big community around them as well. Everyone else is pretty much forget it.

Comment Re: I disagree that this tool should be illegal (Score 1) 94

DDoS-tools are a perfectly legitimate tool in network testing and research and both individuals and various companies do use them for those things. Just because you fail to see any use for them other than illegal attacks on others doesn't make it so.

And the kids weren't charged with having the tools. They were charged with illegally deploying it on systems they don't own, and for using them against sites without permission.

So yes, network security professionals do need those tools. And generally, they use it against a site they have permission to run the test on.

Alas, these kids were neither security professionals doing legitimate work, nor were they using the tools against sites they were legitimately testing.

It akin to (ignoring the fact that owning them is illegal) having a set of lockpick tools. Yes, you can use them legitimately to open locks you have permission to open, as well as use them to educate yourself on locks and their deficiencies. These kids however, were more into using those tools to open locks they didn't have permission to access.

Use them legitimately, and it's a professional tool. Use them illegitimately and it's a criminal offense. These kids did the latter.

Comment Re:Idiots. (Score 2) 293

The reason we can be cord cutters is because we get netflix, so you're suggesting I go back to doing both? %#!# you. #@# you very much.

Well, they said other subscription services, and it's been revealed that Hulu was the one who picked up those movies.

You have to remember the video and movie industry looked at what happened to the music industry. They saw a tepid music industry make its first forays into digital distribution (via Apple and the iTunes music store), after resisting for so long.

Then they saw the rise of Apple over the music industry to the point where the music industry lost control. It took them the step of having to release the music as DRM-free in order to break the control Apple had over them.

So the TV and movie industry took note and said they won't let that happen to them, which meant that they will purposely ensure that no everyone has everything - iTunes will have some, Amazon will have others, Netflix, Hulu, CinemaNow and others will split a bunch as well. Ensuring that no one gets a bigger slice of the pie and becomes the 900lb gorilla.

Incidentally, the TV networks have realized a big benefit to offering streaming TV for cord cutters - ads that are unskippable. If they got the TV show on their DVR, they can skip them at will. If they're streaming it, they can't. This also applies to "Cloud DVRs" as well.

Comment Re:Anyone buy Microsoft Office lately? (Score 2) 198

This isn't a new thing in any software genre. "Physical goods" now means a scratch-off key you can use online to activate something you download.

(As a security guy, I think this is generally a good thing: no more insecure-out-of-the-box-and-never-updated software packages hitting end users' computers.)

Well, usually when you buy a physical game using Steam, there's a Steam installer as well, but you get a lot of the basic assets and such so you don't have download 12-15GB of data over your internet connection.

Given most of the fixes usually affect code, and maybe maps, not having to download that stuff certainly helps.

Comment Re:1,200 found (Score 1) 62

It looks like they unearthed around 1,200 cartridges. Does that mean there isn't any truth to the legend that hundreds of thousands were buried, or is that all they bothered to locate and excavate? After all, if they dug up 100,000+ cartridges, they would flood their own market and they wouldn't sell for as much on ebay, etc.

There is truth that maybe 100,000 or so were buried there. They were unsold copies and returns. Alongside that though, they found an equal mix of other games, including pong, space invaders and other popular games. So that part of the truth, that it consisted of all ET cartridges, is false.

It turns out Atari was having massive overstock of every game, so they sent a lot of it to the dump, but that included many other, more popular games as well.

As for ET being the downfall, it turned out it sold pretty well - despite it being awful, it sold a lot because well, ET. It just was a bad game (not even the worst). It gets its rap fro several reasons, being one of the last released games that Atari released. Even the programmer was well known for producing hits (including the likes of Yar's Revenge).

It's just the market got oversaturated with crap that led to the great videogame crash, and ET was among the crap.

The documentary is actually a pretty good watch, and it helps give credence to part of the myth as well as blowing other parts out of the water.

Comment Re:You keep using that word. I don't think it mean (Score 1) 331

Or there was that dude that ran a home server with TB worth of movies (that he seems to have legally owned) that he made available to his family to stream.

1TB of legally owned movies isn't that much - if you have it in Blu-Ray rips that's well under 100 movies (each one is around 40GB average).

If they were more standard DVD-sized digital HD quality downloads, then we're only seeing 200 odd movies (4-6 GB each). A movie enthusiast having 200 movies isn't unusual.

Comment Re:Stop!!! (Score 1) 87

Can there be an original idea that is used for a series instead of trying to stretch out an idea that was meant for a movie? Jeeez. The best shows were written and produced as shows. The problem with most entertainment these days, no original ideas.

They tried that on TV. Didn't work out. Original shows just don't get the ratings. The only way around it is to not care about ratings (e.g., Netflix, HBO and others that survive not on eyeballs, but on subscriptions).

You have to see where the money stream is to figure out the show.

For Amazon, it' sales of the US prime membership (why is it Amazon limits their shows to US only? Didn't they develop/pay for/distribute the show? Seems silly that Amazon exclusive content means Amazon US only). For Netflix and HBO, it's subscribers.

Netflix and HBO have to produce programming to get and keep subscribers, so they know their market. They don't do reality because even though those bring in the eyeballs, they don't bring in subscribers. Which is why you see a lot more original programming - the proportion of TV watchers who would pay for good programming prefer original programming. But the general public does not, which is fine since the general public doesn't pay for Netflix or HBO.

Amazon is more interesting - they want to produce programming to attract the masses who already shop at Amazon. So they know who's likely to become a Prime subscriber and they'll generate programming based on that. Since the general public uses Amazon, Amazon's programming will cater more to them, especially the ones who use free shipping a lot to whom they have a better chance of upgrading to prime.

Comment Re:I'm not sure this is the right response (Score 1) 213

Except it wasn't about vigilantes taking down an illegal website because society hadn't stepped up to the task. They stole personal data and are now trying to blackmail people with it. Where are the vigilantes who watch over the vigilantes?

Except no such thing happened. Impact Team blackmailed AM - either shut down AM and EM (established men - a prostitution site), or the data will be released. If they wanted to blackmail people, they could've done it, but didn't. Now everyone else is.

And I don't really have much sympathy for users either - Impact Team made a big splash over a month ago when they said they had the data. That means all their users had a month to own up to their significant others. The fact is, they gave Avid Life Media (who own many dating sites besides AM and EM) plenty of time to either contact users that their information may be compromised (1 whole month!), but instead everyone hunkered down and hoped someone was either bluffing or lying.,

"Gort, klaatu nikto barada." -- The Day the Earth Stood Still