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Google Rebuilt the Android Media Stack To Prevent Another Stagefright 50

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: Android Nougat is bringing with it a slew of security improvements, many of them under the covers, and the one that likely will have the biggest long-term effect is the major rebuilding effort Google undertook on the media stack. That component of the operating system is meant to process audio and video, and it's been a weak spot in Android. The media stack includes the mediaserver process, which is used by a number of apps on Android devices. Researcher Josh Drake last year discovered a critical vulnerability in the libstagefright function in the media stack, which could allow an attacker to get complete control of a target device by sending a malicious MMS message. The Stagefright vulnerability is among the more widespread and dangerous flaws to affect Android, and though Google patched it last year, the company decided to take a more systemic approach to the problem in Nougat. Rather than addressing vulnerabilities on a case by case basis, Google implemented technologies to prevent a large group of bugs.

Steam VR Tracking Technology Now Available To Third Parties (pcgamer.com) 13

You will soon be able to play and try out any virtual reality game or app in StreamVR ecosystem without having to purchase HTC's VR gear. SteamVR creator Valve has announced it is opening the floodgates to a new wave to a new wave of VR peripherals. PC Gamer reports: "This tracking technology enables hardware developers to build highly precise position and orientation sensing into devices of all kinds," reads the press release. "Valve expects the technology to be used in a variety of devices, such as VR peripherals and other input devices." The technology being licensed includes everything needed to wirelessly track objects with the HTC Vive base stations (those two laser emitters that you mount in the corners of the room when setting up a Vive), its sensors, and the Steam VR software. To be clear, it doesn't mean we'll see new tracking systems based on the Vive's technology, but that new hardware can work with the Vive's base stations and sensors. The goal is to "support the growth of a healthy portfolio of products that work together with HTC Vive," said HTC VR vice president Raymond Pao.

Comment Re:Does it understand BEING HONKED AT? (Score 1) 156

I wouldn't think so. First off, it would have no idea if the honk were directed at it or some other vehicle.

But mostly its because a honk is usually the equivalent of "hey idiot, pay attention". But Google's cars are always paying attention, so I don't think listening for a honk would be a valuable input.

Comment Great idea (Score 1) 45

I actually did something similar back in 2011. I was working for a company that makes video surveillance software (Aimetis Symphony if you are curious). I was mostly responsible for integrating new cameras (IP cameras are pretty cool), but one day I ended up working on a problem with tracking. The software can do real time object tracking, and when you are using PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras you can have the cameras physically follow moving objects. Its a little bit tricky because not all PTZ cameras have the same characteristics (speed, acceleration, etc) so getting the tracking algorithm to work well with them all takes some work. In order to test my changes I had to connect to one of the test cameras we had on the roof and wait for a car to pass by so I could see how well it tracked it. This was time consuming to say the least.

Being a big fan of automated testing, I was trying to figure out a way to consistently reproduce a test environment. You can't just use a canned video clip as an input because the moving camera changes the incoming video. One day it occurred to me that using a computer generated world would work great. So I grabbed an open source 3d engine (I think it was OGRE, but I'm not sure) and coded up an interface so the rendered 3d output could be fed to the software. Basically to the software the 3d engine looked like a camera. I also wired up the PTZ controls from the software to the "player" inputs (ie mouse) of the 3d engine so it could move the viewport in the 3d world. I then created a simple world with a circular road and a 3d car model that drove around the track and fired it up. The software happily tracked the car model as it drove around and around and moved the camera to keep the car centered in the view. Worked brilliantly. Only took 5 or 6 hours to get it running.

Showed it to my boss and coworkers and they were kinda blown away. My idea was that we could setup multiple 3d worlds with different characteristics so that when you made a change to the tracking algorithm you could run a repeatable test against multiple scenarios so you see how the change affected everything (often a change that improves the tracking in one scenario breaks it in another scenario).

I left the company shortly thereafter (for personal reasons, it was a great place to work) so I don't know what became of it. Since I wasn't there to champion it I suspect they never did anything with it. :(


Comment Exterior rockwool (Score 1) 388

We did 6" of exterior rockwool, triple pane windows with storms. GREATly reduces outside noise.


It is not cost-effective immediately, however adding that much insulation on the house has about a 15-year payback on heating an cooling costs so it is cost-effective in the long run. Rockwool makes the house fireproof too.

Comment A good idea (Score 5, Interesting) 674

I totally support something like this, and believe in the future, a basic income system will be inevitable in most modern societies. The current welfare systems are too complex, shaped by special interests, people exploiting loopholes, or gaming the system for benefit. There is too much abuse, wastage and a large chunk of the population feels a sense of resentment.

Shift to a basic income for all, and you now have a level playing field. It is more efficient, it is harder (or impossible?) to abuse, and no one can argue that laziness or poor health decisions or poor financial decisions are being rewarded. All, from CEOs to Rockstars to unemployed alcoholics are being given a basic income.

The two downsides to something like this :

1) It will be much harder to find individuals willing to do certain categories of high risk or menial labor. You would end up having to pay a LOT more.
2) Inflation for certain goods and services could eat away any gains that a system like this could bring. It is similar to how lowering interest rates does not increase house affordability or put more people in homes, instead it just causes house prices to go up and affordability to remain the same.

Comment Re:Electric universe (Score 1) 45

A significant fraction of comets (where we can observer the comet nucleus) seem to share this common structure... (ie. lobed, dumbbell) and the probability of a gravity-only collision producing the form seems infinitessimally small (due to the extremely weak forces involved). IMHO there is definitely some other process at work, and electrical effects could be a likely candidate.

Comment Well, I did read TFA... (Score 4, Insightful) 128

This article is about a waste of time.

Microsoft has developed an encryption method resistant to quantum computers, it claims. Alright? What is that method? How does it differ from current encryption techniques? Why is that well suited to encrypting against quantum computers? How did you come to that conclusion, given that you don't have one to test against? Are we just supposed to believe Microsoft when they say "Trust us, this is secure"?

Comment Re:HÃ? (Score 1) 419

Thank you for the informative comment! Wish I had mod points. LNT is not based on actual science... it was an overly conservative worst case scenario from back when we knew little about the dose-response effects of low to moderate level radiation. Unfortuntely today the industry is all about $$ and using fear as a tool against the uninformed.

Comment Life is short (Score 1) 698

Tell her this.

Do not forget you will die too one day. I am sorry I am gone, but Death is guaranteed the day we are born. It is a certainty that none of us like to think about. We like to pretend it is something in the far future that doesn't affect us. Live your life if the knowledge that you are going to die. Maybe a long time from now, but also maybe very soon. As you live your life everyday, do not forget that you will die. Perhaps it will make you more religious. Perhaps it will make you work harder. Perhaps it will make you not want to work at all. That is the point really.. you will realize your time on this Earth is limited and you will choose to spend that time wisely on the things that matter, instead of wasting it away on things that do not.

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
- Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005 Commencement address

Comment Re:The internet has no borders (Score 1) 552

It is actually very simple.

I ran the software engineering department at a previous job. Despite my and my boss's vehement objections we outsourced our entire software development team to India to reduce costs. I was to manage them remotely.

We made it work for a while, but in the end we did it by replacing 5 US developers with an office of about 20 in India (15 of whom were developers, rest were support staff like HR, LAN admin, Office manger, etc.) and I was able to show to our CEO that the cost of the India office was about the same as our US development team with just 5 people.

We shut down the India office, and retained 4 of the best developers there, paid them US salary (high five figures to six figures USD annually) as individual free lance consultants, and had them work remotely. I required that they get paid a US salary, if they weren't worth a US salary then we might as well hire someone in the US. We then hired a few developers in the US who would also work remotely (Our company was growing and so were our software development needs). The point was to higher few good developers instead of a lot of cheap ones, regardless of location.

Years later, four of the five developers from India continue to work for that company as freelancers, earning a US wage in India. The 5th one quit to head the engineering department for a major indian website.

Comment Re:Cash (Score 1) 375

Gas for the car? Cheaper via cash. This becomes all the larger when gas prices are higher.

The credit price is about 2% higher, but I get 3% credit card rewards on fuel purchases. So I come out ahead paying by credit, and save time, too.

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