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Comment Re:It was a premises warrant. (Score 1) 322

He may in some cases be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents, but I do not believe he can be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe —- by word or deed

Meaning the fingerprint gathering for the use of opening the phone is tantamount to compelled testimony in the general case, while the fingerprint gathering for the use of identification and matching is not.

Keys don't change. Fingerprints don't change. A biometric identifier is therefore not affirmative.

Combinations can change. Pin codes can change. Utilizing either requires active participation in a process. And is therefore affirmative.

Fingerprint usage is therefore tantamount to using a key, and if you are stupid enough to use a biometric identifier as an access method, you've picked a non-affirmative access method.

Comment It was a premises warrant. (Score 5, Informative) 322

In a premises search, they can compel an unlock of phones by fingerprint, assuming you lock your phone that way.

The specific legal decision was the 1988 John DOE, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES. 487 U.S. 201 (108 S.Ct. 2341, 101 L.Ed.2d 184) decision.

It came down to whether on not an affirmative action was required on the part of someone, or if it was a non-affirmative action. Use of a key on a safe or lockbox is not affirmative. Being forced to enter the combination is not affirmative; it's tantamount to compelled testimony.

Here's the part of the decision of interest:

A defendant can be compelled to produce material evidence that is incriminating. Fingerprints, blood samples, voice exemplars, handwriting specimens, or other items of physical evidence may be extracted from a defendant against his will. But can he be compelled to use his mind to assist the prosecution in convicting him of a crime? I think not. He may in some cases be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents, but I do not believe he can be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe —- by word or deed.

Moral of this story: use a pin code, rather than using the fingerprint unlock. It may be a cool feature, but it offers you no legal protection.

Comment "Wouldn't they be stuck in the traffic as well?" (Score 0) 60

"Wouldn't they be stuck in the traffic as well?"

I believe the theory is that if you practice something, you get better at it. An Uber driver (presumably) practices driving, which means they get better at it, which means that they don't automatically slow down any time they see a huge ball of fire in the sky (try 101 Northbound at 4-5 PM), or other stupid things that less practiced drivers do, meaning they end up not clogging things up, like less practiced drivers tend to do.

The expression "Sunday driver" is actually based on observations.

Comment They already know the cause. (Score 4, Interesting) 145

The fact that they can't determine why these phones are going up in smoke is scary. In a way it's understandable; the ones that do end up exploding burn up so there's no system logs or other evidence that could be checked to determine the cause.

The problem is obviously the charging circuit. If it were anything else, they could just put in better batteries, or ship better chargers. The recall happened because the problem is on board the phone itself.

Newer phones still have the problem, so we know it's a design problem, rather than a component sourcing problem (like the counterfeit capacitors problem). In addition, Samsung manufactures their own phones, and their assembly lines operate differently, compared to Chinese assembly lines at Foxconn: it's very easy for them to localize a problem in the manufacturing process, whereas Foxconn goes out of their way to hide it by making bad employees into nameless cogs.

So basically, they have a design problem in the charging circuit, probably in the cell leveling portion of the charger, in the same way that the "Hoverboard" clones that keep starting on fire have a known bad charging circuit that overcharges some lithium cells in the larger battery, while other lithium cells get too little charge, on the charging circuit keeps drawing amps for all of the cells.

Then when the overcharged cells are discharged, they pretty much "Flame On!", and someone does a fair imitation of The Human Torch(tm).

This stuff isn't rocket science, it's basically third year in a U.S. community college EE and analog circuit design.

Comment Re:really (Score 1) 145

Yes, there's an issue with software updates .... vendors need to be more responsible about that.

Vendors are. Cell carriers aren't. Without a new shiny, how are they supposed to lock you into a new contract for another 18 months, until the next new shiny comes out?

Everything is predicated on locking a customer into your business, in order to reduce customer acquisition costs. It costs a heck of a lot more to acquire a customer than it does to lock them into a contract so you can retain them.

Without this aspect of the business model, both your cell phone costs and your service costs go up. The phone costs go up because they are no longer subsidized, and the service costs go up because they can't amortize the customer acquisition across an average of 5-7 years, and instead have to worry about the customer leaving.

The entire telephone company service model has always been about charging based on circuit switching points, and charging for long distance. Now that everyone is using cell phones, they can't do that any more, and have moved to packet switched networks. But in order to maintain their profit margin, they've had to push the costs off to other areas.

In case you care, most of the costs come from federally mandated rural service. If the telephone companies didn't have to provide service so that when someone in a rural area was having a heart attack, they didn't just conveniently die, and not be in a rural area any more, they could vastly reduce their infrastructure costs.

Most of the rest of the world (certainly Europe) doesn't seem to realize that the U.S. has about 180,000,000 people who do *not* live within 50 miles of a coastline. Unlike the U.K., where *everyone* lives within 50 miles of a coastline. The U.S. is *big*.

Comment Is this for the one guy who kept hist Galaxy 7? (Score 1) 145

Standardizing parts would help a lot. In this case, for example, it's a lot of screens and such that have nothing to do with the problem that SHOULD be going into the spare parts bins for repairs.

Is this for the one guy who kept hist Galaxy 7?

You know, so he can replace the parts every 5 -7 days as it catches on fire?

Comment Re:Does anyone else find this absolutely hilarious (Score 1) 164

You can "dude" and "bro" me all you want.

The point is that Facebook is willing to pay to get people without any access service to the point that they have at least some access .

Bitching about that access not leading to all possible places on the Internet is like bitching about the food bank not guaranteeing that the food they give you is Halal food.

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