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Comment ...and it's come to this, hasn't it? (Score 4, Insightful) 330

I guess people's paranoia with the NSA revelations have been difficult to swallow. Now everyone is slowly becoming suspicious of everyone else.

Anything is possible I suppose. To me, it was no surprise really. I do have to say that, having worked with individuals in the security community, the primary focus really is the safety of our way of life at the hands of those who would subvert it.

The problem comes when those of less character use the government apparatus for control, political or other purposes. It's the same reason police and military need to be kept separate - one enforces the rule of law, and one protects against enemies. When those lines are blurred, history has demonstrated repeatedly that individual rights suffer. The degree to which this happens is the degree of the moral compass of those at the helm of this extremely powerful surveillance apparatus.

I'm not sure how many true boy scouts are really left running the show up there, but I do know this: the more paranoid we get, the more we lose. All of this need not come to pass in this way. One of the most important things I learned in my time in this world was "trust, but verify" and it rings true today. You can still trust the message that Bruce Schneier has. We have to, for otherwise we will be consumed by our own paranoia. But to verify is probably the most important point. That's where openness and information sharing in the spirit of open source is paramount and what will lead us to the proper conclusion on this matter.

Comment Nice effort, but sets a bad precedent (Score 4, Insightful) 95

Obviously the large corporate machinery at Facebook has caught and chewed up some very nice researcher, and the community once again comes in to right the wrong.

The problem is, by third parties paying him, it sets a precedent for rewarding Facebook's bad behavior. Make no mistake - the same idiots that refused the payout and who whitewashed it by claiming a ToS violation will be the same ones watching this effort and wondering how much more they can get away with.

Ultimately, this is bad business practice for Facebook because this strategy will devolve into grey hats and black hats going for the jugular every time, and less white hats trying to do the right thing. Or maybe this just means people will realize on their own what I keep telling them - avoid using Facebook wherever possible. That will, unfortunately, be found out the hard way during the next big publicized data breach.

Comment Android is a poorly managed ad and content discove (Score 0) 331

I work with all sorts of developers of media apps in the big media companies, and I can tell you that Android media player fragmentation across versions is utterly horrific. The support just for media stacks across versions has changed so much, and the DRM so utterly buggered up, that companies such as VisualOn and Nexstreaming have essentially stepped in and built an entire media stack in software that bolts into any built-in decoders in the hardware, and provides streaming media frameworks as well as optional DRM. PBS, being publicly run, can't afford licensing these frameworks wide-scale app deployment at the app level nor afford the development cost of dealing with every version of Android. Using HTML5 is even worse due to lack of full screen playback standardization and codec chaos. Remember that Android is ultimately an OS that is best for ramming ads and redirecting you to Google and friends content properties. That's the mantra over at Google corporate, just like Windows is at MS. Developers have enough to do their silly pop games and social apps and bringing people into the Google App Store and Google Play with well-integrated Google ad network support. Sadly, I'm too cynical to be surprised about PBS' problems here. iOS is much better - HLS encode the content, send to the CDN origin server, point the API at the m3u8 URL, and you're basically done.

Comment IPAWS and Common Alerting Protocol solve this (Score 1) 271

FEMA and the FCC had a big display for a solution to this problem at this year's National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. The system is called IPAWS or Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It augments traditional broadcast-based EAS infrastructure with IP-based infrastructure and mobile using the Common Alerting Protocol. The FEMA guy told me that this is an ongoing effort to integrate all these systems but that it is recognized and it will take a few years, especially on integration with over-the-top content delivery. The press release is here: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=52880

Comment They didn't crack the crypto, just the security (Score 1) 208

Folks have a hell of a time understanding the difference between security and cryptography, and the misleading sensationalist headlines don't help.

Cryptography is merely the study of hiding and unhiding information. It doesn't secure information. Security is about securing information from unauthorized access. These guys attacked the security of the device, probably through the protocol or through insecure hardware.

If the crypto itself (probably AES-256) had been broken, the NSA would have had some big problems on their hands due to the fact that the same crypto is used in the publicly-available Suite B algorithms.

Comment Report them to College of Physicians / Dentists (Score 1) 581

Any time someone gets one of these, report the doctor or dentist to their appropriate professional organizations, and claim that you felt coerced to sign this in order to get care. If enough of these are sent, this practice will stop. That, and post a review of that practice to Yelp and give them the requisite goose egg rating.

Also, doctors and dentists are asking patients to sign binding arbitration agreements. Be VERY wary about this, as functionally it is much worse than limiting public commentary.

Comment Nice idea, but many pitfalls... (Score 3, Insightful) 140

This is a nice idea, but there are a few serious problems with it:

1. If this doesn't catch on and people want it to continue, this could be a significant ongoing cost for running this project above and beyond allocating what people might think are one-time NRE charges. None of this appears to be detailed enough on that site so I'm not sure how far they've thought through this. Who are the target vendors, and have they tendered bids? Costs vary greatly, and I'm not at all ready to throw money when there appears not to be an "open source" plan with sufficient detail to make this real, nor with open listing of the credentials of the individuals involved. If you're gathering up to $250k for a project and you want my money, I had damned well better know that you're able to execute and that you have a real plan and definitely not just an FAQ.

2. How did they define the product? Is it based on market needs? If so, what markets and where is the information on said markets? If it's for hobbyists, I get that, but did anyone do even a rudimentary survey to say how many timers or UARTs might be necessary, whether they should embed an MMU so you can run a more advanced OS, or what the max CPU clock speed should be? If *I* am going to put my money in it, then why not ask *me* what I want? And yeah, I know I can contribute, but how have all of those contributions been managed, organized and synthesized into what is being built AND make it sufficiently relevant for enough time that this would be worth doing before technology moves on? I don't see a single place for that around their site.

3. Frankly, why bother when there are many other vendors such as Microchip who offer 32-bit micros with fully-documented architectures and better capabilities that you can run Linux on? I know, I know, this is what open source is about, but we're not just talking about someone's spare time on a machine they do other things with; this is a real product with real implications. I seriously don't buy how they're going to change the industry since the successful players in the industry guarantee supply to their customers.

I know I'm going to get flamed and down-voted for this post, but the open source hardware world is much tougher than the software world, and ASIC designs are steadily dropping because ASSPs are taking their place. I think people's efforts need to be focused on software, and this is coming from a guy who's been on Slashdot more than a decade with a hardware background (and hence my name) and has switched to the software and systems world...

Comment Moviegoers want a plain good v. evil happy ending (Score 4, Insightful) 771

This is part of the problem with these R-rated fantasy/comic movies. Watchmen is pretty heavy stuff both from a philosophical and situational perspective. I saw the movie on a plane flying to my vacation and came off of it depressed and with a heavy heart despite the basic outcome. In that respect, the movie did its job. The adult comic genre is really a way for many artists to express themselves on very adult topics without having a huge production budget and just some decent drawing talent.

Watchmen wasn't too dissimilar to the bittersweet ending of Sin City. You liked the characters, but most of the "good" (read: likable) guys actually die. The key is that both of these comics explore the subtlety that what is good versus bad isn't cut and dried. Most people aren't really willing to spend their two hours of escape dealing with these subjects and want to see the bad guy lose because it represents their boss or ex or some other negative character in their lives.

Contrast Watchmen and Sin City with LOTR: ROTK where the ending was again turned into a much happier event than what was in the books. Now look at which of these three movies I discussed made the most money. That's what the studio execs are most interested in. I just hope the genre doesn't completely go away because of straight money concerns. Sometimes producing art for its own sake is a worth cause.

Comment 25x more dense, not 5x more dense... (Score 4, Insightful) 162

If a single dimension changes, assuming the NAND cell structure is similar, there would be a 5x reduction in size in each of the X and Y dimensions. Therefore, you would get up to 25x more density than a current NAND. This is why process technologies roughly target the smallest drawn dimension to progressively double gate density every generation (i.e. 45nm has 2x more cells than 32nm).

The big question I have for all of these technologies is whether or not is is mass production worthy and reliable over a normal usage life.

Comment Scary virtual instrument and ensemble examples (Score 4, Insightful) 319

The Vienna Symphony Library is available today and can essentially replace an orchestra to all but the most discerning of ears. Here is an example of the E.T. theme. There are a couple of parts where I can tell it's a bit artificial sounding if I really listen, but it's approaching the flawless threshold.

That said, there is a particular order of ease of simulation: percussion (including piano), strings, brass and woodwinds. The latter two are notoriously difficult to emulate because they are so closely tied to non-discrete complex forms of movement of the mouth (articulation). For example, see this demo of one of the betters saxophone emulators - still something missing even to uneducated ears, but not too bad in a mix. Strings can also be difficult to emulate, but if apps from companies like Prominy are coming out, guitars and violins, this is getting scary.

There are a couple of serious implications of this. First and foremost is what the value of a live performance is with and without musicians, which the linked article addresses. The second is decreasing numbers of people willing to learn these instruments. For a lot of folks who compose for small-budget TV and movies and can't afford musicians, it's a great way to go. Nevertheless, it's the same cautionary tale as the decline in handwriting that coincided with the rise of computers with keyboards. You can't replace handwriting in a lot of circumstances.

Comment MP4 does it all (Score 2, Interesting) 128

The MPEG-4 Part 12 standard or MP4 container is capable of nearly everything that one needs from a standards perspective to set up any kind of streaming A/V media. The metadata boxes/atoms are totally customizable and extensible even to the point of custom device application delivery. All major CODECs are supported within the container. It can be muxed in real-time (with some trickery). All one needs to do is choose the audio and video CODECs and to define the custom metadata if/when necessary, gear your tool set to your choices, and you're done. You can even do DRM and live ad splicing if you want and your system supports it. There's a reason Adobe uses it in their .f4v variant, and why online streaming content providers and even now Microsoft in Expressions are using MP4 and its variants.

MPEG TS is higher in container overhead than MP4. Vudu happens to use it in their service, but it's a cut down version and was used primarily because the set of targeted devices for playback used it(i.e. TVs and STBs). I'd never choose it if I was starting any kind of streaming media service or defining a standard. There are even plenty of tools from companies like Rhozet and Digital Rapids to be able to batch re-mux and re-encode any content from MPEG TS to MP4.

By the way, you're all over the map with your standards. ISDB-T and DVB-H are broadcast standards that encompass much more than the media container specification, like the modulation scheme and receiver-level RF tests. MPEG TS is a container format defined in MPEG-2 Part 1 and is completely agnostic to broadcast standards and that physical medium, even though it is used almost exclusively in that domain.

Comment Re:This is easy (Score 3, Insightful) 170

I totally understand the undercurrent of your comment, and I don't dispute this could be the case. From a security standpoint it may be impossible to detect hardware intervention in any ASIC they may have had, particularly since it can run in parallel with no intervention in software (or preloaded at final test or wafer test).

Huawei should have been subject to ITC embargoes years ago for their technical thievery from the Western network equipment makers. It isn't a surprise to me that this kind of backdoor would exist. People get everything they deserve for buying their equipment from a company started by a Chinese army officer and Communist Party official.

Comment Re:Put lesson plans on TurnItIn.com (Score 1) 590

Begging your pardon for a moment, but is it not the point of university education and student teaching to provide exactly what a teacher needs to be able to do their job, and to adhere to lesson plan guidelines from state agencies and national standards? This is what I remember essentially being the case.

Again, I must reiterate: for-profit education reduces incentive to widely disseminate information. We frequently talk about open source software models being profitable not because of the content but because of the necessary services to implement it in practice. Why not the lesson plans too?

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