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Comment Re:Your Samsung Product Isn't Really Yours. (Score 2) 139

Knox doesn't prevent you from modifying the bootloader... Verizon had Samsung protect the bootloader in ways that are totally independent of Knox.

Knox will REFUSE TO RUN if the bootloader has ever been modified, but even THAT was a policy decision forced on Samsung by customers (like large banks) who refused to license Knox unless Samsung did their bidding. Knox was ACTUALLY designed with the assumption that the phone would have two bootloaders... an immutable stage-1 bootloader, and a modifiable stage-2 bootloader. The idea was that Knox would refuse to run if the stage 2 bootloader was modified, but users could still root and use the phone without Knox, then later reflash the phone to an approved/stock ROM using the immutable stage-1 bootloader. Since the stage-1 bootloader is immutable, and by design can never be changed, it can always be used to securely reflash the stage-2 bootloader, which can then reflash the rest of the phone.

It was actually VERIZON that went a step farther & forced Samsung to screw with the stage 1 bootloader to make it harder for end users to get at the stage 2 bootloader. Samsung itself really, truly, genuinely, doesn't give a shit if you reflash the phone to a new ROM. They won't provide tech support for alternate ROMs (some of which are, in fact, quite dysfunctional), but when they get a phone sent in for warranty repairs, the literal FIRST THING THEY DO is connect it to a JTAG programmer, wipe it completely, and reflash it to stock.

On SOME Samsung phones, there's also a partial loophole... if you can find a way to reflash the stage-2 bootloader to TWRP or Clockworkmod AND ensure that the phone never boots into a ROM with Knox while the bootloader is modified, the "Knox Warranty Bit" will never be touched, and you can later reflash it back to a stock rom with stock stage-2 bootloader & Knox will never know the difference.

Knox itself is annoying, but not particularly evil(*). Once you get TWRP or Clockworkmod onto the phone and reflash it to a custom ROM, you'll never see or have to deal with Knox ever again. And just for the record, the infamous "Knox Warranty Fuse" isn't a flag that negates the warranty on the phone ITSELF... it only negates the warranty on the phone's future ability to run Knox. So if you install Cyanogen on your Note 4, then later go to work for a company that requires Knox if you want to use company email from your phone, you can't file a warranty claim for a replacement on the grounds that the phone can no longer run Knox... but you most certainly CAN still file warranty claims on things like a defective USB jack, the touchscreen, etc. That's not to say some low-level CSR might not tell you otherwise, but once you escalate it to a higher-level CSR and say the magic phrase "Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act", they'll give in quickly.

(*)Compared to most mobile device managers used by Enterprise customers, Knox is actually pretty tame... it allows management to blow away the encryption key needed to access company data on the phone if you quit/get fired/etc, but does nothing to screw with other files on the device. Other MDMs are WAY nastier, and give managers the ability to remotely-wipe your ENTIRE PHONE (including YOUR OWN PERSONAL DATA, like photos). Knox isn't *quite* perfect (it limits your ability to access "Secure" data, but does nothing to prevent your company from pushing OTHER apps to your phone that in any other context would be classified as 'malware'), but Knox itself is probably the least-evil MDM out there.

Comment Re:Customers already refunded... (Score 1) 139

Verizon's lawyers would cross-claim Samsung's, and besides having to pay their own attorneys to make required court appearances and monitor the case, that would pretty much be the limit of Verizon's liability. Sure, in theory, Verizon could be held liable for the full amount under the doctrine of joint & several liability... but that really only matters when the company with primary responsibility is judgment-proof (bankrupt, out of business, etc). Samsung is one of the largest conglomerates on Earth, and SamsungUSA is pretty huge, too... they aren't going anywhere, and their checks won't be bouncing anytime soon.

Comment Re: iPhones just one affected component (Score 2) 128

Ironically, 3G coverage can be *better*, or at least be made usable at greater distance with a bigger antenna. 2G-GSM has a timing-imposed hard limit of approximately 25 miles, regardless of signal strength. 3G-GSM is basically CDMA2000-1xRTT data, with wider channels (using VoIP instead of circuit-switching). That's why Australian & Canadian CDMA carriers used to be popular with remote users, and why they were able to switch to UMTS/HSPA("3G") with minimal drama... 2G-GSM was unsuitable for service in distant rural areas, but 3G-GSM was pretty much just like CDMA2000 coverage-wise.

Comment Re: False premise (Score 1) 494

We can sabotage their sales. Lots of people come to us for computer-buying advice. By strategically over-emphasizing the drawbacks of more closed platforms (drawbacks that might actually be unrelated to our real concerns about openness) and beating hard on the "arbitrary, premature obsolescence of closed hardware" drum, we can collectively make dents in their sales.

Just look at the impact we had on Windows 8... by collectively digging in, stigmatizing windows 8 and its users, and shouting "fuck you" at Microsoft, we managed to torpedo new-pc sales badly enough for hardware vendors to start screaming at Microsoft, too, until Microsoft partially backed down on tablet-izing the use experience of desktops. Ditto, with the most obnoxiously locked-down Android phones. I make sure **everyone** knows how Verizon locks down their phones & delays updates, and how Sony lobotomizes your phone's camera firmware and throws away its media-playback DRM keys if it notices you've unlocked the bootloader. Finally, angry users revolted against & torpedoed an entire generation of Thinkpads back in 2013, when Lenovo stupidly ditched the Trackpoint mouse buttons and expected users to settle for tapping a corner of the touchpad, instead.

We can't beat them through open brute force, but we can *definitely* cause headaches & significant profit loss through asymmetric (guerrilla) information warfare.

Comment Re: False premise (Score 1) 494

PCs aren't "dying", but they're slowly transforming back to what computers were in the 80s -- expensive, proprietary (de-facto or patent-enforced), and limited in capabilities... or a "cloud(-like)" resource owned and controlled by large corporations.

HDMI (more precisely, HDCP) and things like "protected video path" are a peek at what's next. We're literally one popular streaming higher-def media format away from viral licensing terms that do things like prohibit the playback of any content not explicitly licensed, and prohibits playback on any device that doesn't enforce the first condition. Probably with cameras generating licenses... licenses that might require watching your own kids' baby videos with ads (if you bought an ad-subsidized device... or your mobile phone carrier had a 'strategic partnership' with Apple or Google), or charge exponentially higher fees if you want to use their output commercially, or even edit it. I'm sure Sony *drools* over the possibility of being able to charge CNN a million dollars for commercial licensing rights to a video they already paid a million dollars to some guy who videoed some horrific, historic event with his phone's Sony-made imaging sensor that was licensed only for home use...

Once video and sound have been fully locked down, there's not a whole lot left to even bother with if a customer-hacked device were crippled to the level of some locked-down Android phones (that can't even use wi-fi if you flash a custom ROM).

If a good laptop costs $800 today with mass-market sales, and is "free, with 2-year service agreement if locked-down", a comparable unrestricted model won't be $800... it'll be $8,000 AND still have hardware that's a generation or two behind the best locked-down devices.

THIS is why we have to keep fighting for computer freedom. As Moore's-law performance growth flattens out, consumers have less & less incentive to "upgrade" to newer, less-open designs. The longer we can stall the lockdown, the less impact it will ultimately have.

Comment Re: Well, duh. Mass transportation is a slush fun (Score 1) 408

It's going to lauch service with Acela-type trains at 79-110mph running along existing corridors between San Diego & Bakersfield, accelerate to 180mph @ Bakersfield, then slow back down at the northern end & run at 79-110mph along existing Caltrain tracks into San Francisco & UnionPacific tracks to Sacramento... then upgrade the remainder of the route until it's all HSR (I believe the new tracks are spec'ed to 220mph geometry). So no, it won't be a "train to nowhere". It'll be more like the first stretch of I-5 running through rural central California that dumped into existing roads on the outskirts of LA & SJ. Or the first stretch of I-4 between the western outskirts of Orlando and the undeveloped countryside east of Tampa. When it first opened, *I-4* was called a boondoggle & 'road to nowhere', too... now, it's 8-10 lanes for most of that same route, and gridlocked with traffic every morning & afternoon (due to all the married couples who work in Tampa & Orlando & moved to Lakeland as a compromise.

Comment Re: Well, duh. Mass transportation is a slush fu (Score 4, Informative) 408

Almost a hundred years ago, Henry Flagler had the Florida East Coast Railroad built from Jacksonville to Miami to Key West in approximately the same time it now takes **just** to do the environmental impact studies.

It's taking longer to re-double-track FEC along a roadbed built decades ago between WEST PALM BEACH & Miami (for the new Tri-Rail) than it took to build the entire original railroad across a mostly-uninhabited swamp literally a hundred miles from the nearest real city (in 1900, Miami's population was barely 100).

Comment Re: It IS hipsterism (if that's a word) (Score 1) 564

True, but remember... if your goal is digitization, a high-quality deck only HAS to support type I and II bias (III and IV have the same bias as II for playback) and the ability to turn off any noise reduction. There are dozens of official and unofficial plugins for apps like Soundforge that can apply Dolby B/C/S or Dbx directly to the captured .wav file itself. The catch is that you need a deck with extremely linear response. Dbx at the hardware level can directly monitor the signal coming from the tape... Dbx at the plugin level has to make semi-educated guesses. Whatever you do, don't use lossy compression on the source... trying to de-Dbx a .mp3 file would be almost impossible.

Example plugin for Audacity that can decode Dbx: https://theaudacitytopodcast.c...

Comment Re:speaking of component decks... (Score 1) 564

Try Googling for a company that markets specialty decks to libraries, colleges, and museums. The price will probably blow you away, but cassette technology is sufficiently low-tech that someone with the right machine tools (or maybe a good 3D printer) could almost build them as one-off coture items in a garage.

Most old cassette decks still around are nonworking... pre-1997 decks mostly fail due to snapped belts, late 90s/early 2000s decks mostly fail due to bad capacitors or shoddy construction. And if you DO find one that works, prioritize your tapes for capture, because there's a good chance that any working belt that's left is literally hanging on by a thread and can snap at any time.

The good news is, if you find a nonworking pre-2000 deck, you can almost certainly repair it yourself if you can figure out where to buy replacement belts. The bad news is, finding the OEM part number of those belts, or even their exact dimensions, can be REALLY HARD because they're so old at this point, the service manuals are no longer readily available, and few of those manuals ever ended up being archived online because they pre-date .pdf. Personally, I'm kicking myself for throwing away my broken Sony component cassette deck a few years ago... in retrospect, it was probably just a snapped belt, and mechanically, decks of that quality basically don't exist anymore as new products (with the possible exception of ultra-ultra-ultra-expensive decks made for archivists).

Comment Re: Doodle (Score 1) 103

Probably quite badly. I know that Fraunhoffer used an acapella song by Dido as their "acid test" for judging various mp3 compression schemes. Complex sounds and images compress easily... it's the ones that are the equivalent of a pencil sketch on a napkin or a flute solo that make the limits of a compression algorithm *really* stand out.

Comment Re: ...without sacrificing photo quality (Score 4, Informative) 103

How well do Google-compressed images deal with enlargement compared to JPEG, JPEG2000, etc? It's nice to say a new algorithm reduces file size without visual consequences, but compression artifacts can manifest themselves in new, unforseen ways. And future upsizing algorithms might end up being able to get better results from one due to "useless" data the other discards.

Case in point: VHS had a nominal resolution of approximately 160x480 or 512 (with color resolution that barely approximated 40x480/512). But with extreme oversampling of a wider tape path (so you also capture unintended sideband artifacts), you can clean up & resample the video in ways that would be frankly *impossible* if your only remaining source copy was literally a 160x480/512 mpeg-1 capture.

This is a big deal for preservation of analog media. It's deteriorating by the week, but for videotape in particular, there's no good way to massively oversample a decaying source in a way that will let us restore it better in the future. What we *need* is a videotape capture device with a dense array of read heads the full width of the tape, in at least two staggered rows (so row 2's sensors are centered between row 1's sensors), so the state of the entire tape can be captured (the dense array is needed because VCRs recorded diagonally via rotating heads to increase the tape speed relative to the read head... it "kind of" worked, but the capture quality with normal VCRs is *profoundly* impaired if the capture VCR's tracking deviates from the recording VCR's tracking... and the recording VCR's tracking ITSELF might have been "wobbly". We now have the ability to make dense read heads, and sufficiently-cheap phase-change magneto-optical storage space (eg, non-LTH BD-R) to do high-density two-dimensional linear capture so the tracking can be handled after the fact via software.

This isn't sci-fi. There are already floppy drive controllers that can use a normal PC quad-density floppy drive to oversample a 5-1/4" c64/apple II/etc floppy (~25 sectors/track, ~35 tracks at 40-track stepping) at 50+ sectors/track and 80 track steppings. They can recover data from old floppy disks that would have been *unreadable* by the original drives & computers **years** ago. And with some floppy mods to give you 160 or 320 track steppings and slow down the rotation speed, even more discs become readable. Not to mention, even the lesser method can trivially overcome disc-based copy protection (most of which depended on storing data in ways that old drives could semi-reliably read, but couldn't reliably/easily write (or wouldn't, if you used the official kernel/OS/BIOS/API).

Anyway, the point is, for capturing decaying analog content from decaying media, compression is BAD if you ever want to be able to restore or enhance it someday.

Comment Re: It IS hipsterism (if that's a word) (Score 3, Insightful) 564

Why, on ${deity}'s green earth, would you *ever* do something as completely insane as make your SOURCE recording on tape today?!?

Cassettes had their place back before CD-R became cheap and universal (with high-quality metal tape & dbx, you could get about 85% of cd quality), but cassette audio really, truly, has no reason to exist anymore as a format for new content. Records have some lingering value by virtue of being random-access & allowing you to see the layout visually (though modern faux-turntables have basically matched that capability with CDs & digital formats), but cassettes have LITERALLY no redeeming value today. And I say that as an audiophile who owned & used everything from a 1974 Panasonic cassette recorder and1981 walkman all the way up to Technics, Yamaha, and Denon component decks. It's hard to think of anything tape doesn't suck at more than any conceivable alternative.

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