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Comment The downside (Score 1) 126

When this future arrives, the taxi fare will be zero. But there will be a video camera that will record you in the cab all the way, and a robot will rifle through all the papers and bags you are carrying and record it. Then it will upload it all to your google+ account and nag you to share it with rest of the world. And somehow it will figure out from all this, what you want to buy next and pitch ads to you all along the ride.

Comment Most profitable android development evar! (Score 1) 189

Wow! I think the highest profit margins ever recorded in an android universe must have been this project in Nokia. Just a couple of engineers writing a few header files, and one middle manager producing a presentation of a product development plan, one double agent ratting it out to Microsoft ..., boom, the take over negotiations with Microsoft goes at combat speed and the offer bumped up by a billion or two!

Well done, Nokia, you have learned the lessons of all those municipalities and governments threatening to go to Linux to wrangle a better deal from Microsoft well.

Comment He got physical access to the machine! (Score 4, Insightful) 79

So this bogus "maintenance engineer" was able to get access to the physical machine and install a KVM switch and snake cables out of the bank to another location controlled by the crooks. It is not clear how this was detected and how he was tracked.

Well, he could have easily slipped in an unobstrusive thumbdrive with a key logger in to a back usb port, and collected it back in the next "maintenance" visit! One could imagine a usb device based KVM without cables transmitting data wirelessly. Such devices are very useful, I could stash my tower in a sound proofed cooling enclosure far away and keep my KVM on my desk. So they will be in the market, if they are not already in the market. At that point all the bogus engineer had to do was to slip in an unobstrusive usb device in a back port.

Once the crooks have physical access to the machine, it becomes very difficult to protect against. Once a crook and an insider cooperate it becomes very very difficult to guard against.

Comment Re:How common is IR arming remotes? (Score 1) 153

That is a big problem for most slashdotters. Most regular folks will have friends they meet face to face who will happily sit in the drive way and press the garage door opener when you yell, "now". But for people with only cyberfriends (and freaks and fans) it is a real problem. Not to worry. Pretty soon we will develop remote presence robots controlled by our cyberfriends who would see us face to feet.

Comment Re:How common is IR arming remotes? (Score 2) 153

From what I could make out from wiki ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_code ), looks like the password is 16bits, it is encrypted with a 32 bit pattern. Thinking back, to make the car "learn" the garage door, you need to put the door opener in the "synch" mode or "learn" mode first. Then the first key press transmitts the random seed value. Both the car and the door opener intercepts this seed value. That is how the car is able to become an authorized transmitter. It further needs a few more key presses for it to guess the rolling algorithm. So if the first key press that sets the seed value is not intercepted, then subsequent transmissions are relatively safe. But still, it is just a 32 bit encryption. NSA will break it in 2 milli seconds. Local hoodlum might take a few seconds.

Comment How common is IR arming remotes? (Score 3, Insightful) 153

My home alarm system is almost a decade old. It is armed with a dial pad on egress door usually. It has one arm/disarm remote in the second floor. But it is not IR. It is RF, similar to garage door opener. It has rolling codes. Wondering how common is the IR disarming remotes for home security.

But I am more worried about the garage door openers coming with cars. They have usually three buttons in the rear view mirror. You hold the regular garage door open close to it and operate the door two or three times. Somehow the car gets not only the code but also the "rolling codes" and becomes a new duplicate garage door opener. Wondering what kind of security has been implemented there. If I use a sophisticated and powerful radio receiver to capture the code transmitted by the garage door opener two or three times, would it be enough to get the rolling code algorithm?

Comment Most people don't need a general purpose computer. (Score 1) 139

The PC industry has been selling to the customers far more than what they need for a long time. It is true for most gadgets. How many million VCRs blinked 00:00 as the time for their entire service lives? How many people say even now, "I don't use even 1 % of the features of my camcorder"?

No, not everybody hacks C/java, they don't need a video editor, or sound editor or image editor. 90% of the people consume content, and the only content they create are simple letters and emails. Even the other 10% who create content using photo editors, video editors, audio editors, IDEs, apps, web pages etc, they don't need all this in all their computer. The market for full fledged content creation computers is 100 times smaller than the market for content consuming computers. Chromebooks are great playback devices for all kinds of media, audio, video, books, photos etc even when they are off line. When they are online, they can do everything that can be done through a browser.

The net effect of it is, our gravy train is coming to a halt. All these content consumers were subsidizing the general purpose computers we slashdotters typically love. Let us be prepared to pay high prices for a general purpose computer in the coming years.

Comment If you outlaw hand grenades ... (Score 0) 378

... only outlaws will have hand grenades. Hand grenades don't kill people, people kill people. Our founding fathers realized the need of free citizens to keep and carry tactical nuclear warheads to guard against tyranny.

Go ahead and mod me troll or flame bait. But never question if there is a dividing line somewhere in the spectrum of weapons from .22 six shooter to shoulder fired anti tank bazookas.

Comment Godrej stopped making the manuals in 2011. (Score 1) 201

India's Godrej company ended production of manuals in 2011. For millions of rural Indians the ticket out of poverty has been typewriting and shorthand certificates. My dad used a portable Remington to pound out inspection reports. He stopped using it once he became a superintendent and got his own stenographer. I used it as a toy and kept it going for long time. Lacking a proper machine shop all my repairs were done using bent paper clips and bits of nylon strings. These machines are indestructible. Eventually it was sold for scrap for a few cents per pound. Sad, I miss the smell of metal and oil and the ink and the ribbon.

Comment Once they prove commitment .... (Score -1, Offtopic) 132

Once the company shows its commitment to continue the support for the platform, they will come. Who will come?

Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers,

Some hack to overcome the lameness filter:

The seax was found in the River Thames near Battersea by Henry J. Briggs, a labourer, in early 1857.[note 1] Briggs sold it to the British Museum, and on 21 May 1857 it was exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries of London by Augustus Wollaston Franks (an antiquary who worked at the Antiquities Department of the British Museum), when it was described as "resembling the Scramasax of the Franks, of which examples are very rare in England; and bears a row of runic characters inlaid in gold".[2] Since then the weapon has usually been called the Thames scramasax; but the term scramasax (from Old Frankish *scrâmasahs) is only attested once, in the History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, and the meaning of the scrama- element is uncertain,[3] so recent scholarship prefers the term long seax or long sax for this type of weapon.[4][5]

Comment Re:Metal working mastery ... (Score 2) 47

For an individual, yes, smithing is very hard. I think we had smithy in my third semester, I think and probably made a C. For a society? Smithy does not require great flights of imagination or crucial insight. People have been making stone tools for 2 million years, fire for half a million years, constantly looking to harden stone/wood/bone tools by charring them in fire etc. So they would have noticed, unlike flint, the meteorite rock bends, but it could be beaten into a sharp edge repeatedly.

On the other hand, it boggles my mind how they discovered smelting. Definitely by poking around the remnants of campfires serendipitously started on ore rich ground would have been the starting point. But still that is the difficult part, identifying ore deposits and coming up with a process to make the metal without fully understanding the chemistry, purely by trial and error. That was incredible.

Comment Metal working mastery ... (Score 5, Informative) 47

The metal working mastery consisted of basically heating the damn thing and beating the hell out of it with a hammer. Finding iron ore, smelting it down and extracting the metal are the difficult thing to do. Once you have the metal, beating it into shape is no big deal. For example the legendary Viking swords +Ulfberht were made by the Vikings by importing high carbon steel from the Middle East via the Volga trade routes. (Of course, the Viking might have discovered and then lost the technology to produce high carbon steel, but the facts Viking were trading with Middle East via Volga, and the Middle East was making high carbon Wootz steels by that time lends credence to this theory).

Making the metal from ore require mastery, making non load bearing artifacts out of metal requires just muscle.

Comment Fake blackberry skin has some value. (Score 4, Funny) 176

One of the old posts in slashdot suggested people with desirable phones like iPhones and Samsung androids to get fake blackberry like skin to make the phone less attractive to thieves and snatchers. So if Blackberry copyrights the skin design they can actually make some money off their own suckitude.

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