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Comment Ignores the ulterior motive of traffic stops (Score 3, Interesting) 311

This ignores the unspoken policy that traffic stops are not always about enforcing traffic law and collecting small fines, but rather the police want that interaction with the driver so they can fish for bigger violations. Traffic stops are "pretext stops", a loophole to get around the 4th amendment.

Running your plate and taking your ID isn't about making sure they assign points to the right person, but also about looking for wants and warrants. Getting you to roll down the window and talk to the officer isn't really about checking whether you smell like booze or pot, or seem nervous. There is no right to remain silent when an automobile is involved., and traffic stops are one of the most productive ways to find and arrest people with outstanding warrants.

Comment Re: How can this work with European smart cards? (Score 1) 181

... we all have to have mag stripes on our cards as well just in case we ever go there. I never go to the USA, so the mag stripes on my cards are entirely useless other than for skimmers. Does anyone know of any UK banks which offer a "I am never going to go to North America so please send me a card with a blank mag stripe" service or even a "I sometimes go to North America so please send me two cards, one with mag and one without" service?

In the time that it took you to type that post, you could have erased all the mag stripes on all your credit cards. It doesn't take much -- a strong magnet will do it, or you could just use a bit of fine sandpaper to physically remove the stripe.

Comment Re:Home Server (Score 1) 183

I haven't kept track, but ISPs used to shit bricks if you tried to run a home server (without paying for a business class connection). Their (somewhat legitimate) reasoning was that home servers were more likely to be hacked and used for things like anonymous e-mail relays for spam.

For the most part, American ISPs have backed down from this, and block inbound only for TCP/25 and the high-risk Windows ports. A few block port 80.

For just accessing your home network for the purpose of automation, there are plenty of workarounds to get past ISP blocking, they really don't care if you run a "server" that is only ever accessed by two iPhones, one for you and one for your SO.

Comment Re:Depends on the devices (Score 1) 183

Many cloud-tethered products have no documentation for their protocols, no supported way to modify the firmware, and use public-key encryption to make it very difficult to "spoof" the cloud service so you can run them without talking to the vendor's proprietary server. Many vendors have realized that consumers will shop on price and ignore privacy. For example, Y-cam used to manufacture IP cameras, but based on feedback from customers now only offers a smart cloud-based security solutions, in both free and paid subscription versions

Is it really 'the cloud' that's the problem - or is it just that funding it all through advertising is the problem. If Google had all the data it currently has, but used it strictly for providing its services - and you paid for those services rather than letting Google place ads based on what it knows about you, would that be less of an issue?

Cloud based home automation and similar services would still be almost as much as an issue without the "privacy" concerns. For example, in 2014 Nest bought Revolv, a "smart home hub" maker whose product was entirely cloud-tethered. Then Google (owners of Nest) decided they didn't want to support Revolv, and so announced the End of all cloud services for Revolv customers, essentially bricking the revolv hub. So when you own a cloud-tethered device that doesn't have the option to run the essential services on your own hardware, you don't really "own" anything at all.

Regardless of business model, nearly all cloud-tethered products cheap out on protocols and update mechanisms and local components, with the concept that the smarts can be handled by the remote server so the hardware price is reduced. This is great for the vendor's ability to scale up, but not so great if they stop supporting your device, or if your connectivity to the Internet is intermittent, or if their are issues with their cloud service or cloud provider.

What gets really annoying is how many products are designed to be cloud-tethered with no provision to keep working when they can't reach the public internet.

Comment Re:X10 (Score 1) 183

X10 is not up to the task because it is a one-way protocol. You can not verify that the commands you send to a device are received (or successfully executed) by the device. The best you can do is send the same command multiple times and hope that at least one of them got through. And if the commands are not idempotent (as in you need to send a sequence of commands that depend on the success of the previous command) then it becomes very unreliable.

Its nice for turning on the light in the room you are already in, but that's about it.

Correct. This is why X-10 has been almost universally retired, supplanted by Insteon. And most people just getting into HA today are going with one of the newer wireless-only protocols, usually Z-Wave (Smartthings, Wink, Vera, Securifii), sometimes Zigbee (Philips, GE) or WiFI.

Comment Re:Yes, there is software that does just that - (Score 1) 183

Similar setup here. Custom "IoT" devices, communicating using MQTT mainly (mosquitto as a broker). The downside is that it requires electronics knowledge, prorgramming knowledge and also too much free time (that's my main problem really).

Or if you don't want to get into soldering your own mains current devices and writing your own broker, there's Insteon and Z-Wave with both standalone and cloud-tethered control hubs. Neither Insteon nor Zwave sensors and load controls are directly internet linked, the devices don't phone home to the Internet and will run fine without cloud connectivity. Some of the management hubs are very much dependent on cloud services, but the more expensive ones can talk multiple automation protocols and will work fine without the Internet.

I was at ISC West earlier this year, the primary automation focus was on Z-Wave, with just about any type of sensor you can imagine being available in a Z-wave integrated package.

Comment Re:What's the great thing about a "smart" home (Score 2) 183

Making home infrastructure smart has plenty of utility, beyond simple laziness.

A smart thermostat connected to other home automation can know when nobody is home, automatically switch to energy saving mode, and then be notified when a resident is heading home so it can enter recovery mode and be back to a comfortable temperature by the time you arrive. Same goes for water heating -- if nobody is around, water in the storage heater tank can be allowed to cool down, and then brought back up to temperature before it is needed.

Speaking of hot water, having my own "smart meter" and monitoring allowed me to detect when the water heater was failing (energy use increased significantly), long before it stopped working entirely. Keeping track of power consumption by the AC system and fan can tell you when a filter is clogged or if a pump or fan motor is failing. By monitoring water usage (flow rate), you can detect plumbing leaks as well as notice when a hose is left running.

A one-way-feed out from an alarm system can be useful. If an alarm is triggered in the basement or first floor while system is "Armed-Home", then all lights on only that floor are turned on at full brightness. If "Armed-Away", all lights on all floors go into full disco stroboscope mode, and outside lights start blinking slowly on and off in the traditional S-O-S pattern. You can literally have an air gap between your alarm and home automation by using a photodiode to read the alarm LED state if you want to be paranoid.

My next step is to install powered insulated window blinds that open on sunny winter days for passive heating, then close at night to keep the heat in, and a UV sensor that closes the blinds on really sunny days to reduce UV fading of my furnishings.

Comment The iPhone was a triumph... of marketing (Score 3, Informative) 397

The first iPhone was launched January 9, 2007, a full year after the LG Prada (and 15 years after the first touchscreen phone). LG's Prada included many of the UI, design, and functional elements claimed as iPhone "firsts".

I'm sorry but PalmOS and even Windows Mobile did all of this way before the iPhone even hit the drawing board. There were even mobile phone versions in the the form of the Treo and Tungsten C.

The only revolutionary thing about the iPhone is it broke out of the techie niche that previous devices had been trapped in and brought it mainstream, but I suspect the biggest reason for that is fashion rather than technical.

Exactly. Multi-touch aside, the iPhone wasn't particularly innovative technologically, but it was the first mainstream non-techie smart phone.

Comment Re:Unfortunately... (Score 2) 51

There's a fairly easy solution to these issues, and there are cyanogenmod / rooted apps that have been available for a long time so it's technically a done deal. Allow the user to control which permissions it allows for each app,

Fixed in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, this release provides a granular per-app permissions management UI, allowing revocation of permissions from any app.

Comment Re:Gun laws do save lives (Score 1) 819

If more guns make you safer, then the US should be the safest country on earth yet last year there were 12,236 deaths and a further 24,755 injuries from shootings(3.53 per 100,000). This casualty toll includes 640 children aged 0-11 killed or injured by guns.

Canada has outstandingly low gun casualty statistics. In 2009, there were 0.5 deaths per 100,000 from gun homicide — only 173 people. Still, the ownership is comparatively high — there are 23.8 firearms per 100 people in the country.

There is no legal right to possess arms in Canada. It takes sixty days to buy a gun there, and there is mandatory licensing for gun owners. Gun owners pursuing a license must have third-party references, take a safety training course and pass a background check with a focus on mental, criminal and addiction histories.

Licensing agents are required to advise an applicant's spouse or next-of-kin prior to granting a license, and licenses are denied to applicants with any past history of domestic violence. Buyers in private sales of weapons must pass official background checks.

Canadian civilians aren't allowed to possess automatic weapons, handguns with a barrel shorter than 10.5 cm or any modified handgun, rifle or shotgun. Most semi-automatic assault weapons are also banned. As a result of exemptions, several kinds of assault weapons are still legal in Canada, although this has been the source of some controversy.

You would think there would be more crime in Canada as almost no one carries a concealed weapon yet the per capita rate of all crimes is much lower than the US

Compare Canada to New Hampshire, USA: the most machine guns per capita in the country, about 10% of the population has a concealed carry license, no paperwork is needed to purchase, posses, or even to open carry a firearm.

Yet somehow, New Hampshire Is Safer Than Canada.

Comment Re:Gun Control is OSHA for violent criminals (Score 1) 819

eliminating handguns from the USA would likely bring our rape rate up

Ok, I've seen this enough in this thread, usually from the people who are claiming the results cited in TFA are BS. So I need a citation. Show me that in similarly developed countries, but with higher levels of gun control, the rates of sexual assault and/or rape are consistently higher.

Oh, and remember, correlation != causation, right? Or does that all of a sudden change when it supports what you believe?

BTW, while I'm pro 2nd Amendment, I'm also anti made up bullshit. Show me your bullshit isn't made up.

I'm not going to do your research for you. Note that I said "likely" -- the crime of rape, in particular, is difficult if not impossible to compare nation-to-nation or even state-to-state because of reporting differences, driven as much by culture as by law enforcement.

Comment Re:this is why there is almost no research (Score 1) 819

i can too: cities and states that lack gun control, or are barred from enacting local gun control by state law. cities like New Orleans, St Louis, Detroit, Birmingham.

meanwhile cities with gun control dont appear on those lists. cities like chicago (not the murder capital), new york (safest in the country).

FYI, Chicago now has very little gun control, and is prohibited by the 2013 statewide preemption law from enacting new gun control. Chicago's 1982 catch-22 handgun registration (ban) law has been overturned, it's now possible (if you have time and money to spare), to obtain a concealed carry permit even if you are a Chicago resident.

As with the rest of the country, changes in gun laws show no correlation with changes in homicide rates in Chicago. None of the changes in Chicago's gun laws have made any difference in Chicago's crime problem -- not making them stricter, and not making them looser.

Comment Re:I know how to reduce firearm deaths by 99.9% (Score 1) 819

And yet when you compare the figure of 100% of US residents that murder people with guns to the Canadian gun stats, somehow the US stats are much higher. I don't know what it means but some genius should study those figures. We could have a murder-fee society in just a few years. I'm actually going to propose a study that will determine if gun manufacturers are embedding some type of ignorance drug into the metal, wood and plastics that guns are made of recently.

So it's ignorant to recognize that crime rates and laws are not uniform across provinces or across states?

There are parts of Canada with shockingly high violent crime rates, and high overall homicide rates. There are parts of the USA with shockingly high violent crime rates, and high overall homicide rates. It's almost as if homicide isn't a uniform issue in either of these nations, and firearms ownership does not show a strong correlation to homicide rate, which should lead the non-ignorant person to suspect there are other factors driving these problems.

Given that Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire have high firearms ownership (about 10% of residents carry handguns) and lower homicide rates than Canada, maybe we don't need new nationwide laws covering the entire US, maybe we should look at what is different about Maine and it's neighbors to make them safer not only than the USA average, but also safer than the Canadian average?

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