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Comment My own testing (Score 1) 385

I have a chip and RFID enabled card, and of course the first thing I did when I got it was to test what could be pulled from the card with tools available.
Interestingly enough, the thing you can pull from both the chip and the wireless are general details of the last 10 transactions placed on the card. This in and of itself is only a small part of what you would need to get access to funds - I think you would need keys and application access (in RFID parlance) to access that part - but having the last 10 things you did open and in the clear for any reader is pretty alarming when you consider that any vendor that does an authorization or tap on the card can also collect this information and add it to their database on you as a customer.

Of course, Visa or Mastercard have that and a lot more - but having it handed to the vendor too is a bit disturbing. Handing it to the guy with a reader concealed and giving him an idea of how much cash you took out an hour ago might also be scary.

Note - I live in Canada, so US folks with their less than secure (no PIN) methods might be worse off.

Comment Raises more questions.. (Score 1) 116

I am curious about the backstory to this attempted escape more than the foolishness of his hacking that put him in the crosshairs.

Like, where did he get the boat? Was it stolen? Borrowed?
Was it seaworthy? Sail or power? Where did they leave from?

My guess is that they took off and tried crossing the gulf stream during a period when the wind was contrary and got tossed. The wife then tossed her cookies and probably demanded they get rescued.

Knowing how things operate down there, they probably had eyes on them from the moment they left. The only surprise is that they did not show up on the FBI radar until they got picked up and IDd by the cruise ship. There is hella surveilance down there since the 80s to keep an eye on the smugglers. Even a wooden boat with negligible radar signature will still get scooped as that is what the Haitians are ghosting over on.

I doubt they even got spitting distance from Cuba before the gulf stream put them in the wash cycle and started hauling them backwards. If they had arrived, the Cubans would probably have taken a dim view of their arrival. Unless you have money and a specific float plan, they see any boat entering their sheltered bays and harbours as a yankee plot.

Comment I tried that (Score 2) 10

I had the same idea a while back, but instead the idea was to use a pair of glasses with arms that were antennas - the position of the tongue in the mouth was sensed in the space based on how it affected an HF field between the parallell wires, kinda like a head-theremin. There were a lot of potential issues with interference and the processing to work it out was not going to be trivial - but the idea seemed sound and would have let you use the tongue/teeth and roof of mouth as a kind of mouse pointer and keyboard.

Comment No dice - Not living under a "screamer" again (Score 1) 164

I used to live on a boat that ran entirely on solar and wind.

I can tell you, nobody wants to live that close to, or in a dwelling attached to a wind generator like that. The 3 blade design either puts out little to no useful power (1A@13,8V on most light air days) while all the time it spins putting out a shrieking noise that makes the noise made by mega-wind gennies sound relaxing by comparison. Perhaps if you swapped it out for a multi-blade lower output unit, but for the most part the best place for these little monsters is over a hill somewhere not within earshot. Unless you love banshee wails, in which case go whole hog and get some guinea fowl and perhaps a chimpanzee for the full crazy sound orchestra.

Also, the solar panels are woefully inadequate. You will be constantly making trade offs between chilling with your fridge or charging your laptops with that level of wattage. And for the price, you can probably DIY a 20' sea container and get more bang for your buck, and more solar panel mounting area too.

Comment Re:Can I test cocaine and MDMA with this? (Score 2) 82

It wasnt my first thought, but giving this to drug buyers to identify not the drug (which it could) but rather if there was anything horrible in what the drug was cut with, might be a terrific harm-reduction tool. Not getting burned would be how you would market it to the drug buyer - but having it set off an alarm if the stuff was cut with rat poison or something equally deadly when put in ones (nose/veins/eye/toes/orifice) could save some grief. Of course, the cloud would probably just send a text to the local DEA saying it got a hit on substance-X complete with GPS coordinates, so you might want to spring for the Developers kit and have it filter the signatures for you for privacys sake.

Comment Re:MASS spectrometry? (Score 2) 82

NO, but there are gadgets that can do some of those - look up XRFs - they tend to do better with bulk/surface/soil analysis of atomic species, especially the heavier ones. I worked with one of these a bit (Older Niton unit with a non-excited X source) when helping my wife with her PHd research, which involved finding the Manganese levels in soil. People use these all the time to find lead in kids toys, and alloy analysis as you queried above.

A device that can do XRF and NIRS (the one in the article) at high resolution and low cost would be a game changer, but also might be hard to buy, because anything that gives off X rays is probably never going to go consumer grade.

Comment Lithium Titanate batteries are not new. (Score 1) 395

The existing variations on this tech are faster to charge because of increased interactive surface area, but they have less energy density.

As trade offs go, this puts more of a strain on the charging infrastructure, as you get batteries that charge faster, but need it more frequently. If this tech can increase the lifespan, it could bring prices down, but I would prefer to get my cake (high energy density) and eat it too (high charge/discharge currents possible).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium%E2%80%93titanate_battery

Comment Well, glad the drones arent doing the shooting yet (Score 2) 397

At least folks are still getting out in the fresh air.

Seems like its only a matter of time before people can just sit in their living rooms and run an armed drone around the bush to shoot stuff for them.

It already happens a bit with the astronomy crowd - why stand shivering when you can remote your telescope from the comfort of home?

On the plus side, if you do happen to design a drone smart enough to hunt down a critter, you may have a future building dystopian tech for the defense industry.

Comment Ubuntu 12 on old XP machines - 32bit problem. (Score 4, Informative) 426

This is a nice sentiment by Munich, but the many of the folks who are running XP and try and install Ubuntu 12 will be in for a nasty surprise -

32 bit machines without PAE will not load with most newer Linuxes. Most, including Ubuntu, no longer include 32 bit non-PAE kernels in their installers.

I found this out when I tried putting a modern albeit tiny Linux onto my FitPC 1 and an older EPIA motherboard - XP runs fine on these, but finding a linux is probably beyond the skill of most XP users. Jury rigging a different kernel in is definitely out.

A lot of older XP installs are also running on older hardware. Just giving away an OS will not magically fix this. And if these folks upgrade the hardware, it probably comes with a newer windows anyway.

Comment Re:TAANSTAFL! (Score 2) 181

I could totally use a version of this - I would wrap it around the exhaust riser on the diesel, and then cool the other side with incoming cooling seawater before it entered the cooling heat exchanger. The difference would be 400C inside vs 22C outside, and might be able to generate some more energy from the waste heat.

I also considered running ammonia through this hot spot and making it an adsorption refrigerator, but that can generate some interesting (chinese) pressures, which can be a hazard.

Of course, normal folks just put an alternator on... but why be normal!

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