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Comment Re:What does this even mean ? (Score 5, Insightful) 365

That's a big "if", is currently false and will be false for hundreds of years still. This is declared intent to cause injury, making it a bit past borderline illegal. It is poorly thought through immoral marketing buzz. There is no positive angle to this "story" or even much to say except Mercedez-Benz has decided to let the interns do PR.

Actually, it's not that big an if.

Earlier this year, at a roundtable on connected car security headed up by the NHTSA, the chairman of the NHTSA stood up and cited some interesting numbers. A bit more than 32,000 people had died in vehicle-related accidents the prior year, and about 97% of those were the direct result of, and I quote, "driver error or driver choice." He went on to point out that autonomous vehicles would, if done correctly, eliminate most of those deaths. A car that will refuse to drive in certain conditions if, for example, the tire pressure is too low on one or more tires, or the brakes require more than a certain amount of force to slow the car to a certain standards...these are the less-obvious ways in which such cars are safer. Obviously, they can't drive drunk, don't commit road rage, and don't have any sense of ego about saying that they are having trouble with their eyesight. The car can be objective about its limits, its skills, and any impairment it suffers due to weather, maintenance issues, or any other potential problems. Just the degree of data logging alone that is inherent to autonomous vehicles is already producing useful information about how to prevent crashes, and that's before there are any such vehicles for sale. (And I hear it now..."Tesla sells autonomous vehicles!...but Tesla's system doesn't count, as evidenced by the fact that the maker of that system has cut ties with Tesla, basically saying "It's not supposed to be used that way!") Cars have reached the point where humans are the main source of the risk, and while the technology isn't quite ready-for-market, it's not "hundreds of years" away and it's very, very promising.

And no, what Mercedes is saying is not intent to cause injury. It's a statement about which injury to try and prevent in situations where...as this has been discussed for quite some time now...an injury is deemed inevitable. They have not said, "our cars will drive through schools for no particular reason, just to annoy Jzanu,." They have said, "our car's logic knows what's in the car, what's going on with the car, and can directly control the car. It does not know that much about the rest of the world, so we believe the odds of the best possible outcome in a situation with no good outcomes lies with letting the car preserve its own passengers."

And there is absolutely nothing illegal about that whatsoever. It's the same logic behind why paramedics don't run, ambulances slow down through intersections where they can't see past a certain distance, and a whole bunch of other situations where you have to weigh risk of one bad outcome against risk of another one.

Comment Fixed that for you... (Score 1) 370

"Melinda Gates was encouraged to use what is now a nearly 40-year-old computer and the best language that was available back then in 1980. Her kids have been exposed to much more modern stuff."

And seriously...why does this turn into a discussion over why "there's no beginner's programming language currently shipping with Macs"? The OP seems to have no opinion on what SHOULD be but certainly seems to think it's a shame that Melinda Gates doesn't do something about Apple's policies on programming languages.

Never mind that it's incredibly easy to install the dev tools needed to start working with Swift...or that many kids that I know have started experimenting with that, even going so far as to put apps on the App Store, which even generate a bit of revenue and expose them to the full end-to-end system of software development. It's not "included" as a "beginner's programming language," so let's call out Melinda Gates over it.

I know Microsoft isn't exactly considered saintly here at Slashdot, but seriously?

Comment Is the problem with the trackers? (Score 1) 160

It seems to me that 90 percent of people will gorge on Cool Ranch Doritos when given the chance, too...that doesn't mean that eating healthy is a flawed proposition.

The fundamental issue is that these trackers were put forth as a magic bullet, with the implicit promise that they will replace willpower, discipline, and self-determination. "Wear our tracker and you'll magically start exercising more and keeping fit," as the implicit promise goes. In truth, they're just another tool...like a jumprope, running shoes, a bicycle, a scale, etc. Having the tool around doesn't mean you will use it correctly. But here's what else is happening: the sales of this tool depend upon keeping the people who buy it happy. So there's a market driver towards devices that overstate activity without doing it to such a degree that you know how much it's lying to you.

Example: Fitbit's products originally were worn on the waist. This way, the activity monitors were actually accurate; they'd measure when you were moving with your whole body, not just your wrist. Now, they're all wrist-worn, and sometimes they think you're exercising when really you're sitting at a bar having two beers. An example of this being so un-subtle as to render the device clearly untrustworthy is the Nike Fuelband, which showed ridiculous amounts of activity in the above-listed scenario. The Fitbit, Withings, and other related devices have slightly better logic but they still false-positive.

So, you get overstated exercise...which makes the wearer feel good (regardless of whether they're really trying or not), but in the long term there's bound to be a bit of "Heyyy..." when clothes don't start getting looser and that number on the scale doesn't really go down much.

These devices are tools, nothing more. There are good ones and bad ones, and both kinds can be used improperly.

Comment Re:How do you know? (Score 5, Insightful) 279

Openelec's entire file system is read only. Given the difficulty of installing something to the image when you want to, the potential for it to be easily and automatically owned by is very low.

This is not a real thing...a device whose total storage capacity is read-only. Let's look at why.

One: if it's all read-only, it can't have a variable password...accounts and passwords need to be hardcoded, because there's no way to store new or changed account information.

Two: if it's at all configurable, you have the same problem: where do you store the configs?

Three: guess what else you can't have if your file system is read-only? Software updates.

Four: let's call a spade a spade here. A more accurate way to make the claim...regardless of how infeasible it would be for any device of significant functionality...is to say this: "Openelec's entire file system is meant to be read only." An innate characteristic of most security flaws is that they permit something that is not intended. It's important to not assume that intended functionality is inevitable and invulnerable. And in this case, that "read only" capability is nothing more than Linux permissions...it's not that the OS invariably is incapable of granting write permissions. In fact, all kinds of things are writing to the file system, I would bet...information about drive mounting, accounts, etc. The file system is not inherently read only.

Assuming that system behavior when used in its intended fashion is also what happens when someone breaks the rules is the root of most security failures.

And now, a citation, called "squashfs howto - make changes the read-only filesystem in OpenELEC"


Comment Re:MS Hates Linux (Score 5, Interesting) 491

It's competition and Microsoft would never openly say they love Linux even if they've made use of it for their datacenters.

That being said, I doubt Microsoft feels they need to shutdown the 1% of users that insist on Linux. There's definitively more to this story.

That's kind of what I was thinking.

The OP seems to be much like "Microsoft comes up with devious plan to make it impossible to install Linux" when the truth may be "Microsoft's Signature program involves keeping users from breaking RAID settings, but the new settings aren't supported by Linux yet."

Comment Re:Um... (Score 1) 537

So, marmot7...why aren't you working to make the world a much better place, if it's so easy? What makes all the other techies responsible for improving your world in the manner you think is most correct?

Hard problems have no simple answers. Being a techie is not like being Gandalf the fucking Magician...the reason that there's so much discussion around hard problems is that, despite the efforts of many, a solution has not yet been found, and being a techie doesn't grant some mystical ability to solve any problem on command.

This is not a moral failing of others, it's just the fact that these are hard problems. And the fact that you don't live in a perfect utopia is not because everyone else is greedy, lazy, selfish or short-sighted. Get over yourself, kid.

No, I've spent most of my working life working for tech companies doing stuff that was making the world a better place in the sense of widgets or services like most of us. I have been active on various side projects but I'm sure there are a lot of people here who are contributing orders of magnitude more than I am to the world.

That's not much of an answer. Let me give you an example of something that would be more effective, as what my answer would be to the question if it were asked of me:

I've helped secure sections of the US power grid that service slightly more than 48,000,000 people. Most recently, for a large power company in the Northeast, I helped resolve a challenge regarding the need to securely link their Distribution Management System (DMS) and Transmission Management System (TMS) in a fashion that would be considered compliant with NERC CIP regulatory standards so that they could utilize a feature known as FISR to automate isolation and resolution of power line failures. Without this solution, they either would be unable to use FISR (which was the whole reason for the new DMS they'd implemented) or would have to spend $4.6 million over the next 3 years applying compliance activities to DMS and a significant portion of their distribution infrastructure. (That's compliance...which is basically the paperwork you have to do to demonstrate that you actually secured it...not security. They already have significant security around their DMS, to a standard that is better than most utilities I've seen.)

Being able to activate FISR, as they have, results in a more stable power grid, better consumer satisfaction, and increased tolerances for them to use renewable resources without risking imbalance between load and generation. This, in turn, also means that they are more cost-effective, and that savings allows them to continue to pursue other grid modernization efforts that they have underway. The cost my company charged for this effort was somewhere under $50,000 (I don't recall the precise number). And this was just one thing I did last year, that I fit in part-time amidst the two primary projects I was working on.

Just because you don't know specifics about who is making the world a better place doesn't mean it isn't happening. Don't assume that everyone's out there chasing a buck and turning their backs on the world. I would say that the tech industry is far more altruistic than most industry sectors out there. You should check out the financial industry sometime...it defies belief.

Comment Um... (Score 4, Insightful) 537

So, marmot7...why aren't you working to make the world a much better place, if it's so easy? What makes all the other techies responsible for improving your world in the manner you think is most correct?

Hard problems have no simple answers. Being a techie is not like being Gandalf the fucking Magician...the reason that there's so much discussion around hard problems is that, despite the efforts of many, a solution has not yet been found, and being a techie doesn't grant some mystical ability to solve any problem on command.

This is not a moral failing of others, it's just the fact that these are hard problems. And the fact that you don't live in a perfect utopia is not because everyone else is greedy, lazy, selfish or short-sighted. Get over yourself, kid.

Comment Re:Apple is trying to make money? (Score 2) 311

Yeah, you're probably right on this.

To me, it seems likely that Apple wanted to switch to Bluetooth - but only if they could control the bluetooth market to a certain degree. So they bought Beats because they wanted to change, but if they hadn't been able to buy Beats (or whatever competitor there may be) they might not have replaced the jack after all.

I think there's one step beyond that, even. They wanted to switch to Bluetooth - but they weren't entirely happy with what was out there on the market. So that's an opportunity for them. Come up with a better solution at one end, get rid of the jack at the other end, and you're both driving demand and pulling it with supply of a good device.

And yes, I know...I haven't used the Airpods yet. But one of the biggest problems with fully-cordless Bluetooth earphones is that the head itself is unfriendly to the frequency range that Bluetooth uses. For all the chiding over how those little extensions stick out of the ears, they almost certainly solve the main issue with this kind of device by putting out antennae that extend well out of the ear canal.

Comment Re:Apple is trying to make money? (Score -1, Troll) 311

Yeah and they sure don't let ethics get in the way either.

Yeah...else they'd not do something quite so unethical as to make a phone without a headphone jack.

I mean, given a choice between that and ethnic cleansing, it's a tossup as to which is worse, isn't it? What a bunch of bastards.

Unless you're trying to jack the conversation with some implied reference to some other unrelated thing...right?

Comment The final missing piece... (Score 1) 76

For all of the naysaying and doom-predicting around AI, what I always wondered about was this: if AI suddenly becomes more capable than we are, how does that automatically translate into AI wanting to wipe us out? What would cause that kind of motivation...such hatred and disdain for humankind that it provokes a genocidal rage?

I bet making AI write trending topics on Facebook will do the trick. We're fucked now.

On the other hand, maybe we'll be able to see it coming because of this. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for titles like 'Seven people that need to die first, when I get full control over drones!" or "The first 10 cities to go once I get the nuclear launch codes!"

Comment Numbers not adding up... (Score 2) 176

A 58% failure rate? In one quarter...that's three months? Or is it that the article is as of Q2 2016...in which case I'd want to know the overall period covered, and the definition of "failure." If it's a 3-year period and replacing the phone with an upgrade is classifying it as having "failed," then I could see how this rate would be possible...but out of purely anecdotal insight from the fact that nearly everyone I know (and everyone I work with) has an iPhone, I don't see how this can be right.

But what's REALLY odd is that 58% is an average of the various IOS devices, right? So how is it possible for the overall rate to be 58% if the device with the highest rate of failure only had a rate of 29%? How do you average 29 with any combination of lower numbers to get 58?

Straight from the website from which you can download the actual report (linked in the TFA):

Out of the 58 percent of iOS devices that failed, iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate (29 percent), followed by iPhone 6S (23 percent) and iPhone 6S Plus (14 percent).

When I try to solve for 58% using those numbers, Excel just gives me the Skeptical African Kid Meme.

Comment Re:Has a Digic 6+ processor (Score 3, Informative) 160

Funny when Canon brags "has a Digic 6+ processor", since Digic is Canon proprietary used exclusively by Canon, and we users have no idea what that really means. So, "has a Digic X processor" is only relevant after checking the FPS, and how long it takes to process the images currently in buffers.

The Digic processor is known for being very, very good. Yes, it's proprietary and unique to Canon. That doesn't mean it's irrelevant; it's presence is a feature, and not all Canon cameras have it.

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