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Comment Your Fingerprint isn't ever stored in flash (Score 5, Interesting) 303

If you check the design, the fingerprint image itself is never stored anywhere. The fingerprint profile is only stored on silicon in the A7 chip. There is no API to access that data, only flags to tell you that it exists (so the OS can discover there are four stored prints and their names, but nothing about the actual fingerprints themselves).

Apple touts the fact that the fingerprint is never sent over the network as a feature but in reality it can't send it over the network even if it wants to, nor can any application access it.

If you think Apple is lying... well... There must be some level of trust somewhere or we may as well give up. I tend to draw the line at the CPU because if that is compromised or includes back doors, we are all screwed anyway.

Comment Commercial vs. government control rooms. (Score 1) 94

Anybody knows how the new commercial space launchers do in comparison?

Don't know about the current crop. But back in the late '80s AMROC controlled their launches without the classic room-full-of-custom-consoles. Instead they hacked up their "consoles" as a GUI on one instance of the state-of-the-art windowing interface computer of the time - a Macintosh (what they'd now call a "Macintosh Classic").

I hear that, when they showed up at Goddard for their test shot, the usual control room crew was standing around with their jaws dropped as the whole thing was run from the little screen on the little box on the single desk. B-)

If you never heard of AMROC: They were the ones that were working with the hybrid rocket: Solid fuel (synthetic tire rubber), liquid oxidizer (liquid oxygen). Controllability of a liquid fuel, complexity halfway between solid and liquid fuel (only ONE set of plumbing, not too that must be synchronized), safety better than either (turn off the LOX and the fuel just smolders and goes out.

They lost their mover-and-shaker founding-team member days before their first flight attempt. Then, though the engines had many successful tests, the actual flight attempt failed in about the worst possible failure modes for a hybrid: The LOX valve iced up (due to ambient moisture) and stuck at about 30% open: Not enough thrust to get off the pad, but enough slow burn energy to destroy much of the rocket and pad equipment, and they couldn't either launch or shut down. Then they went bankrupt, so there wasn't a second shot. (Their tech was sold and some of it is used in space ship one.)

Comment It's just automation doing its job. (Score 1) 85

Now I can record even more TV that I'll never get around to watching. Technology is great and progress is divine.

Ha ha, but seriously....

Letting the automation pull the the needles out of the hundreds-of-channels vast wasteland haystack is a classic example of using automation to do the drudgery, leaving you to do the interesting stuff.

There's two hundred channels of crud and 20 minutes per day of stuff of interest? Let the computer watch the junk sieve out the jems for you. That way you don't need to be rich enough to hire an army of interns to do the same.

Comment Affected software (Score 2) 254

Just in case you were worried about Windows updates, the defective patches are for Office 2007 and Office 2013. From the article:

KB 2817630 is not a security patch, it's a gratuitously delivered functionality patch for Office 2013, and man has it had an impact on functionality. I've seen dozens of reports that installing this patch, possibly in conjunction with the KB 2810009 patch that is part of MS13-074, causes the folder pane in Outlook 2013 to disappear. An anonymous poster on the SANS Internet Storm Center offers this picture of the effect.

KB 2760411, KB 2760588, and KB 2760583 are parts of the MS13-072 and MS13-073 security patches for Office 2007. There are many reports of the patches being offered and re-offered and re-re- ... you get the idea

Comment The actual tech (Score 5, Insightful) 242

I dug up what looks to be the main patent for the technology from 2008:

The microwave energy is focused onto a device to be charged by a power transmitter having one or more adaptively-phased microwave array emitters. Rectennas within the device to be charged receive and rectify the microwave energy and use it for battery charging and/or for primary power. A communications channel is opened between the wireless power source and the device to be charged. The device to be charged reports to the power source via the channel a received beam signal strength at the rectennas. This information is used by the system to adjust the transmitting phases of the microwave array emitters until a maximum microwave energy is reported by the device to be charged. Backscatter is minimized by physically configuring the microwave array emitters in a substantially non-uniform, non-coplanar manner.

I don't know enough about antennas and E&M to evaluate that. Any help here? According to the articles it gets ~10% efficiency at 10 feet and receives (?) 1 watt at 30 feet.

On to the possible crank warning signs:
* According to his LinkedIn profile, he's spent his whole career being a CEO and/or (later) doing software testing at Microsoft.
* He's identified as a physicist, but all he has to show for it is a bachelor's in physics from the University of Manchester (where he also "studied ... computational linguistics"). No graduate degree or research career.
* Twenty years after he gets his degree, having done nothing but software, he's suddenly producing miraculous hardware based on cutting-edge physics?
* Charger is hidden behind a curtain during a demo.
* Charger is six feet tall, but they're going to consumerize it to the size of a desktop PC in two years, when it will cost ~$100.
* Replacing all their off-the-shelf hardware with custom-built optimized hardware? No problem!
* Current fridge-sized charger has 200 transmitters, but when consumerized will have "20,000 transmitters in an 18-inch cube".
* The only public demo makes an iPhone declare itself to be charging. No electrical test equipment or data shown. No real evidence that it does anything.
* Claims the power goes through walls just like Wi-Fi, even though Wi-Fi signal strength can drop by orders of magnitude when it goes through walls.
* Charger only gets 10% efficiency from 10 feet away in open air, but this is never mentioned as an obstacle. Come to think of it, no technical obstacles are mentioned at all.
* This:

“In wave theory and electromagnetic systems, you don’t get linearities everywhere,” he added, describing the science behind Cota. “There are situations where double could mean for more, like double could mean square, or 3 plus 3 apples could result in a net total of 9 apples, so to speak. When you move from the linear version to the power version, things happen that were quite surprising.”

I don't know, maybe I'm being too hard on the guy. Maybe he's been doing physics and electronics as hobbies all this time, actually did come up with a workable idea, and used his management experience to drive the development of a real product. Maybe they really will have a commercialized version ready in a couple months and I'll have to eat crow. I just can't help but feel skeptical of people who announce their world-changing new product before it actually is a product.

Comment Re:Not until 4k displays become common (Score 1) 418

Why the fuck he's talking about "image quality"? Until we get 4k displays the quality differences are non-existent.

Resolution is far from the only thing that matters for image quality. Contrast, black levels, ghosting, viewing angle, color reproduction, and even input lag (for lip sync) can make a big difference. For an extreme example, compare LCD vs. plasma at the same resolution.

Comment Re:A thought... (Score 1) 452

Or better yet, once in court and under questioning invoke the 5th Amendment. It does work once there. It cannot be used to trump a subpoena and skip out on testifying as a witness.

Until they give you a grant of immunity. Then it doesn't work anymore.

There are two kinds of immunity: Transactional immunity (witness can not ever be prosecuted for crimes related to his testimony) and Use immunity (they can't use your testimony, or any evidence they gather based on its information, against you - but if they find other evidence you're fair game.)

Unfortunately the Supreme Court has ruled that Use Immunity is enough to extinguish the 5th Amendment right and federal prosecutors rarely offer Transactional. Some states have more stringent laws, constitutions, or constitutional interpretations and Transactional immunity must be offered before their courts may compel testimony.

Of course prosecution is not the only life risk for a witness. I know of at least one person, here in the disarmed-citizen utopia of California who has stated an intent to "not have seen anything" unless granted a perpetual concealed carry license.

Comment Slashdot posts Press Releases? (Score 1) 201

So if I pay the WSJ to reprint my press release (which is what Segate did), will Slashdot post my marketing copy too?

Let's compare this drive to the size of an iPad mini (because I'm familiar with that tablet, insert your own tablet of choice).

This drive is 2.5" still; that's huge compared to the size of an iPad mini, 512GB of surface-mounted flash is half that size or less.

It is 5mm thick, the iPad mini is 7.2mm thick. Would there even be room for the screen? 512GB of flash is less than half that.

It weighs 1/3 of the weight of an iPad mini as well. 512G of flash is a rounding error by comparison.

In short, this is a company that was caught flat-footed by the rise of SSDs because they were too busy thinking about how to preserve their hard drive business. Now they are desperately trying to push spinning rust to the limit and still falling well short. The only thing they can do is sell them for dirt-cheap prices. That also probably means the scaling of hard drives will slow or stop at this generation as SSD sales cut the profit out of that market, thus reducing the capital available for R&D and deployment of new HDD technologies.

I'm in an all-flash household now, I have no desire to go back to spinning disks. I don't have a lot of data points to back it up but so far I have zero failures in the past three years since I installed my first SSD, compared to no less than four HDD failures in the previous three year period.

Comment Re:Dolphins and Bats are Mammals (Score 2) 164

they all start with some common underlying mamallian hearing genes and then they tweak them to develop echolocation.

Actually, a lot of animals that aren't credited with using echolocation actually use a variation of it: Sounds from their own motion (such as footsteps) create echoes, which their hearing system processes into a map of nearby objects.

People, for instance, do this. That's why you can "feel" the nearness of walls and objects in the room (especially those near or immediately behind you) without looking, when you're moving.

There's at least one recorded instance of a totally blind child who learned to ride a bicycle and avoid objects, by making clicking sounds with his mouth to provide excitation for this system.

(The hearing system of things like mammals is evolved from the lateral line of fish - which both detects other nearby fish by direction-finding on the sound from their muscle twitches and other sound-reflecting objects by detecting the echoes of muscle twitches of the fish doing the listening. (A flat surface, for instance, would produce an acoustic mirror image of the fish every time it twitched, identifying the return as an echo of the fish itself.) It would not surprise me if the processing for echolocation in other animals is just a revival or slight remapping of this same mechanism.)

Comment While you're at it, ... (Score 1) 478

please, please ... pass on this advice to a Progressive

While you're at it, point out that a lot of their prescriptions INCREASE risk while purporting to reduce it. It's doubly annoying when they work so hard, throwing money, effort, and restrictive laws into trying to solve a problem when the effort and sacrifice actually makes it worse, in a positive feedback loop.

Progressives have no monopoly on this, either. Neocons, consdrvatives, and even Libertarians do it as well. It's easy for all to do things to attack a problem and not see that the indirect effects of the effort cause more harm (even in terms of the problem being attacked) than the first-order effects help.

Some examples:

  - Gun control: Private ownership and carrying of guns REDUCES crime, violence, victimization, and death, while citizen disarmament increases them.

  - Attempts to police the world produce "blowback", creating new and/or motivating existing enemies, increasing, rather than decreasing, the risk and costs to the US from war.

  - Drug prohibition creates more drug use and criminal enterprises, rather than reducing drug use, and harms the drug users more than the drugs do. Its component programs often have counterproductive pathologies of their own. One example is the D.A.R.E. program, which attempts to use peer pressure to encourage kids to ignore peer pressure, and has been shown to increase drug use.

  - Grabbing advances to any program, rather than considering whether achieving goals in the wrong order makes things worse rather than better. (A Libertarian example: They want both open borders and an end to government wealth distribution such as welfare programs. Unfortunately, opening the borders first leads to an influx of social program dependents, making the overall problem worse (and increasing the voting block to preserve and expand the programs), when fixing or eliminating the programs first would remove most of the downsides to opening the borders later.)

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