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Comment Re:All they had to do (Score 1) 26

Not to be critical, but you might want to release the triangle wheel first, that way the square wheel is an improvement over it (however still flawed), then after that a pentagon wheel, then a hexagon wheel... The users will feel the product is getting better and better with each release, even though the wheel still isn't round.

Comment Re:Awesome! (Score 1) 87

I'm highly skeptical of the info in the article of being able to root 90%. When I got my GalaxyS5 (running 4.4), I needed to root it (for reasons I won't go into here), but in order to root it, I had to install "SafeStrap" for a recovery boot option, ODIN to flash older kernel to the device, boot to recovery, and downgrade the kernel, then use "BusyBox" and "TowelRoot" to root the device... then recovery boot again, and use ODIN to re-flash current kernel back. This method involved rebooting the phone multiple times, flashing from recovery mode (which an app can't run in recovery mode), sideloading some apps that aren't available in the Play store, and using ODIN (windows program) from a connected PC, plus having downloaded 2 kernels to have handy (and moved to the SD card) for the flashing.

With all that said, how is a "flashlight" app achieving all this when there were too many steps that required user interaction and couldn't be done by an app on the phone? I call BS to the 90% number.

But I agree with the parent, that Root access should be a menu setting, and not require the technical gymnastics that it has become. If not on all phones, then at least on all phones purchased outright that are "unlocked" and not from the carriers (Nexus and other brands similar). I have bought 2 phones recently for family, where we paid full price outright for them, not through the carrier, and are not carrier branded nor even sold through the carrier, and yet they have no root access on them. Why? Would people still use Windows/MacOS if all you got was a user account when you installed, and didn't have admin privileges? I think not. Why is this deemed acceptable on a phone when it's not acceptable on a PC. I would make the same argument for the mediaplayers out there as well, like FireTV, NVidia, AppleTV etc. Should all have root access as an option.

Comment Gang Related, not random (Score 5, Interesting) 137

This has been a more recent problem, and it IS gang related. Some relevant information about the problem... there are 2 feuding gangs, one from Richmond, and another from Vallejo that are having some kind of feud between each other (don't know which specific gangs). The corridor of the freeway and towns mentioned are for the most part, all the towns in the stretch between these two locations. El Cerrito is just West of Richmond, and if you travel east, there is Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Rodeo, Crocket, and then the bridge with Vallejo on the other side. The majority of these shootings are happening mostly at night, not during normal driving hours and almost all of them have been in this specific corridor (with a couple outliers happening near Berkeley).

These are NOT people on foot taking pot-shots at passing cars or anything of the like. These are mostly targeted, and are between multiple cars on the road, not on foot, so the perpetrators shoot and then just drive away and get off the freeway down the road. In some of these cases, one gang will in Richmond will spot a rival gang member on their turf, and chase/follow them, until the rival members gets on the freeway toward vallejo and the ensuing shooting occurs on the freeway. I think most of the shootings that I'm aware of, have happened on the East bound side, which indicates travel from Richmond toward Vallejo.

I've also heard rumors that one of the reasons the shootings have moved to the freeways, and the 2 gangs are attacking there is because the freeway does not have any "Shot-Spotter" system installed, which some of these cities in that corridor of the freeway do. I don't know if this is accurate, but it does make some sense. So in other words, if one gang intends to attack another gang IN Richmond, the shot-spotter system would detect it and they have a more likely chance of getting caught. If they follow the person onto the freeway, then open fire on them, then the Shot-Spotter systems are useless. So this could already be a case of one "safety system" pushing the violence out of the area where it has naturally occurred in the past, to a new area that does not have the same "safety system". So there is the real possibility that putting some system in place on the freeway will just push it somewhere else, maybe a worse place (for those not involved).

Comment Re:I don't believe it for a second (Score 3, Insightful) 388

This was my first knee-jerk reaction as well. Right after they couldn't win a court case involving the same thing, it's convienient that now a personal more heart touching request is being made by a non-government agency. This raised red-flags immediately when I read.

While I feel for the guy, and understand the reason behind his request, my next logical reaction was "why didn't you get the password from your son before he passed away?". If it was a sudden, unexpected death, like a car accident or something then I understand not having plans for that, but this was cancer... he had time (maybe little, maybe a lot (while for the family, not enough time in general), but there WAS time to get that info from him while he was alive. Or to have the son take his password off the phone so it was unlocked and not protected at all.

I understand when a family is going through something like this, they don't want to think of all the things that need to be done on a rational level, but this proves that you still have to think of and deal with issues while you can if you are going to consider them important after the fact.

Comment Re: What? (Score 1) 410

This isn't entirely true. While you ARE on a contract, the phone is 100% yours after the contract is up, thus it doesn't hold up to the "renting" the phone paradigm that you suggest. It's more of a finance than a rent. If the phone was rented, then no matter how long you had it, it would still belong to the carrier. Similar to the cable companies "renting' the cable modems to the users, you never own it if you cancel service, no matter how long you've had it. On the other hand, after a 2-year contract, the phone is mine to keep, I can get the SIM unlock code, and I can take it another provider, or sell it on the used market, or whatever I want with it. They don't ask for it back. Thus, it's not renting.

Submission + - A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane

Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender.

The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it’s the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through.

Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.

Comment Re:dot (Score 1) 166

Good luck with that. These systems are a platform for a very niche industry. They are programmed by very niche programmers in this industry. As a programmer of AMX and Crestron and Extron, it's a small market even when you include the fact that these are used in schools, corporate campuses, and governement. If the government engineered their own, and make their own platform, they would still need to have a big enough market to attract programmers to learn and implement these things.

Comment Re:Bin Laden Raid (Score 1) 166

The most someone would have been able to do is "maybe" hang up a call or something. While this might have been an inconvenience, it's not like the people on the ground need the white house watching them to complete their mission. The higher ups that were watching live might have been upset only because they got disconnected on their ring-side seat to their "reality tv show".

Comment Re:Not Normally Connected (Score 1) 166

I'm am also an AMX programmer (see my username), and I program Crestron as well (main competitor). While this is all new news to me as well, I can concur with the OP on several topics.

Firstly: AMX doesn't make hardware dedicated to government use. It's used in in lots of places, schools, homes, businesses, churches, government facilities and the like. The headline makes it sound like it's a defense contractor that did this. No excuse here, though, as a backdoor on anyones network is not good, but it's not good.

Secondly: AMX has taken strides for over the last 10 years to implement this small industries best security in the class of hardware they make. They ARE an engineering driven company, and I would be shocked if this was implemented for nefarious purposes over being a mistake.

Thirdly: I can also attest to the OP's comment, that the majority of these devices are being installed on air-gapped isolated networks that only connect to the AV gear located in a particular room. When they are attached to a larger network, or clients network, they are usually isolated on a seperate VLan dedicated to the AV gear and other controllers in other rooms/systems.

Forthly: This isn't a typical network appliance that many of you might be familiar with. It is an embedded controller, it doesn't access other computers or servers, it doesn't have hard drives, or the capabilities of a general purpose computer/server. It runs custom written code that communicates to A/V gear (projectors, monitors, audio DSP's, and video conference units, etc) to control them for the user from a custom GUI touch panel. They don't have access to data stores, or have sensitive information passing through them for any purposes. The most sensitive information that it might have that I can think of off the top of my head might be a phonebook list from a video conference device (names/contacts).

These units normally do not have internet access, so to access this backdoor, you would usually already have to have local network access anyway. While I'm not positive what this backdoor could allow a person to do, the most common/likely thing that could be done might be to wipe the existing programming or insert some extra commands to devices, which might play havoc with a system (turning it off in the middle of use, or turning it on by itself, or making it inoperable). I just don't see how it would allow actual real nefarious actions like accessing sensitive information or stealing secrets.

Because the other AV devices that these controllers interact with are only for control (many use simple RS232 serial) some telnet or other, there is really no danger, or possibility of using these backdoors to say, capture or evesdrop audio from the room, or spy on a video conferencing session, or "see" what is being displayed on a projector or monitor. The protocols of these devices are for control only, and do not actually transport this type of data on these connections. For instance, an AMX controlling a cisco VTC codec would be able to make calls, hang up calls, move cameras and other actions similar to the manufacturers control interface, but not actually "see" or "hear" the content of the video conferencing session. That's just not how it works, or what it's able to do.

I give AMX the benefit of the doubt on this one, while it was a mistake, and got magnified because of their installation in sensitive areas, the AMX team is good set of engineers. Thier aquisition by Harman might have changed things a little, but I still don't think this the security hole that most here are picturing. It's not like these things have access to data streams of an entire network passing through them like the Juniper switches we read about a few weeks ago that have backdoors.

Comment Re: Winamp (Score 1) 117

I used to use WinAmp for years to play my mp3 collection but have moved to MediaMonkey. I like media monkey better. Also has some nice features for DJ (including what they call DJ Mode). Making playlists is super easy (especially temporary ones when you just want songs to play in a certain order), as is searching through your archive of music. The interface is really flexible, but does take a little getting used to comming from winamp but not bad. I dont plan on going back, Ive found MediaMonkey to be better for everything I used WinAmp for.

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