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Comment Still an early prototype. (Score 2, Insightful) 52

I have looked at this several times. No way this thing can survive being outside 24/7/365. It's not waterproof where it counts, it needs a whole lot of refinement to make it to an actual 1.0 release device that can last outside through all types of weather for at least 3-4 years. The gantry is not self cleaning or sealed in any way, same for the tracks.

It's a great idea. and a fantastic early beta. but they need some industrial robotics guys to show them how to make it survive weather.

Comment Re:How the ransom works (Score 1) 15

Currently that is very close to the Polycom Scam...

Buy Polycom Video Conference device.
Wait 3 years and need an update to fix a security hole Polycom had in their software.
Pay EXTORTION FEES of 4 years of Support contract to access that download. The current year and the previous 3 years.

Pray they dont alter the deal any further, and kiss the ring of Polycom Don.

Cisco and other big companies like them need to have their executives punched in the taint.

Comment Terrible place for a solar plant (Score 1) 122

Chernobyl is at 51 degrees North latitude. That far north, the angle of the sun and the earth's tilt significantly reduces the the available solar power throughout the year. It's about the same latitude as Germany, which only manages a solar capacity factor of about 0.10 (i.e. if you have a fixed panel with 100 Watts peak generating capacity at that location, over a year it will on average generate 10 watts). Capacity factor incorporates weather, night, average angle of the sun, and less sunlight reaching the ground because it has to travel through more air due to its oblique angle through the atmosphere.

The continental U.S. sits closer to 40 degrees North latitude, and has an average solar capacity factor of 0.145. The best locations for solar are closer to the equator, and in arid environments with few clouds. Solar capacity factor in Southern California and Arizona for example is about 0.185. That is, you can get nearly double the energy production of Germany for the same surface area of panels, simply by putting them in a better location. Chernobyl sits along Ukraine's northern border. Unless there are huge differences in average cloud cover, Ukraine would be much better served by building the solar plant along its southern border.

Comment Re:This disaster is entirely of your own making (Score 2) 468

I thought the U.S. screwed up too at first. But then I read an article that in Europe, you basically can't contest fraud on your card. The reasoning is that because the chip cannot be defeated, and you're not supposed to tell your PIN to anyone, any use of "your" card must be legit. Either you made the purchase yourself, or you loaned the card to someone else and told them the PIN. So it must be your fault, therefore you are on the hook for the fraudulent purchases. Even if you're talking with the bank on the phone while sitting at home with your card in your hand, and there are transactions showing up on your account from Indonesia, they'll insist it's your fault. You are presumed guilty, and have to work to prove your innocence.

The problem is the chip isn't hack-proof. A researcher (can't find the article right now) showed that the specs for the terminals have several different protocols, one of which confusingly uses the same signal for "the correct PIN was entered" and "a PIN (any PIN) was entered." He rigged up a card which would make the terminal accept his PIN via this message (card connected to a computer in his backpack via a cable hidden in his sweatshirt), grabbed a half dozen volunteers, and demonstrated his hack allowing him to put charges on their cards at a bunch of random stores in France. Criminals have already been caught using this hack in the wild. There are probably other ways to defeat it too which we haven't figured out yet.

The chip and signature system allows an American cardholder to contest a charge simply by pointing out the signature doesn't match their signature. The system is more secure than magnetic swipe cards, but not so secure that banks and the government start to assume fraud is "impossible" and thus shift the burden of proof onto the victim to prove that s/he was victimized.

Comment The fault lies.... (Score 4, Insightful) 468

Completely at the feet of the banks. They needed to get off their asses and spend a tiny bit of their immense profits to fucking switch over. The banks could send every retailler a new chip reader for every register for free and STILL make record profits every quarter.

So blame the Banks and the Greedy assholes that run those banks.

I'm for bringing back all the heavy handed bank regulation from before 1980. Fuck the bankers.

Comment Re:I'm shocked. (Score 1) 528

You're talking about a fundamentally different situation to the rest of us here.

In your example, a remote service on which some functionality depended was disabled. Obviously anything that depends on some remote facility can be affected by changes there, regardless of changes to the local machine. This is a real danger of the kind of always-online systems we have today, and it can be (and certainly has been) abused by developers, but I don't think it was what the rest of us were talking about in this particular discussion.

What we were talking about before was whether Microsoft could forcibly affect a Windows 7 system itself to disable functionality, analogously to the Windows 10 updates that started this discussion. The only change to a local machine in your example appears to be via a software update, which you can choose not to install on Windows 7, while not everyone on Windows 10 has that option, short of actively circumventing Microsoft's system.

The Anniversary update for Windows 10 is particularly troubling, because up to now the only way to restore some of the control that earlier versions of Windows offered (notably including controlling Windows updates themselves) on Windows 10 Pro has been through group policies, and Microsoft have now demonstrated that they are willing to remove even that control mechanism if it suits them.

Comment Re:What the hell? $600K? (Score 1) 57

Just the accounting you'd need to sell the thing to the government would cost you $100K. Oh, and you'd have to pay yourself or someone else to take part in the bidding process or apply for the granted, and that has to be recouped as part of the sale cost. Er... you were planning on paying yourself for your time, weren't you?

Also, there's a big difference between building a prototype from junk you scrounged and building a reproducible product. When you build a product the second copy should be exactly the same as the first but cost less. Duplicating a one-off prototype exactly usually costs more. Why? Proof of concept prototypes are cheap because you make them with surplus stuff you have lying around or can buy for fractions of a penny on the dollar. You can be opportunistic. The problem is any particular set of opportunities (e..g the $10,000 assembly you picked up at auction for $50) aren't reproducible.

I had a colleague whose first job out of school was writing up a detailed specification for a prototype midget submarine a defense research lab built for the Navy. The Navy was pleased at the low cost and so they wanted to be able to build a second one just like it. Well it turned out that a second one would have cost a hundred times as much they'd have had to pay manufacturers to reverse engineer stuff or start up production lines. It was one of the pointless, futile tasks you dump on newbie engineers before you know you can trust their work.

Comment Re:Basic Journalism... (Score 2, Insightful) 155

That's an asinine argument. Other people who should do it don't do it, so I won't do it either.

Wikileaks won't do it because Assange is a chaos-monger posing as a crusader. Wikileaks should do curate its leaks because when you possess information you act responsibly with it, e.g., don't expose people it is about to identity fraud.

Comment Re:All the stories I'm seen look horrifying (Score 1) 480

You can upgrade to Win 10, and immediately roll it back to 7. It might uninstall some programs it deems incompatible, but otherwise should put you back where you started. Microsoft's servers register the fact that you've taken advantage of the free upgrade to Win 10 (dunno if it's tied to the hardware or to the Win 7 key), so you can go back to Win 10 for free again any time in the future. This is actually the strategy I've been advising - that way you can decide whether or not to upgrade to Win 10 after seeing what features/horrors the Aug 2 update brings.

Key transfer limitations are the same as with Win 7. Retail versions can be moved to new hardware. OEM versions are tied to the original computer.

You supposedly have 30 days to roll back to the previous version of Windows that you had, but I'd advise rolling back long before then. One of my VMs was upgraded July 2. I just tried rolling it back yesterday (July 28) and it said it was too late for me to roll back. This despite the Windows.old folder still being on the drive with all the Win 7 files still in there. On well, that's what snapshots are for.

Comment Re:Yes, deleted files are (sometimes) recoverable (Score 2) 60

writing once is enough. It's an urban myth that you have to do it more than once to obliterate the data. Manybe with old 10megabyte RLL and MFM drives you could easily recover information as the head was miles wide and the slop from the track move was insane enough that you cna easily see it. bot for the past 10 years a single wipe of zeros will make it impossible for the worlds best hackers to read the data on a modern hard drive.

Comment Re:The safe 1 minute summary (Score 5, Interesting) 126

United Airlines flight 232 crashed into an Iowa cornfield while attempting to land. A turbine in the #2 engine flew apart mid-flight due to a manufacturing defect, severing all the hydraulic lines. The crew controlled the plane with differential thrust from the two remaining engines, and frankly it was a miracle they even made it to the runway. Roughly a third of the people aboard were killed.

One of those killed was a lap child - a child flying without a paid seat, and thus held on a parent's lap during the flight. This presented a problem during the emergency landing. Lead flight attenand Jan Lohr followed FAA procedure and instructed the parents to put the child underneath the seat in front like a carry-on bag. After the accident, the mother (who survived) came up to Jan and, in tears, told her "I did what you told me to do, and I can't find my child."

Jan was beset with guilt, and began a quarter-century crusade to outlaw the practice of lap children. That any child flying should be required to have their own seat with a crash safety seat like we use in cars. She even testified about her experience before Congress. It all came for naught when in 2012 the FAA issued its final decision that lap children would still be allowed. A victory for the selfish, self-centered stockholders and management behind the evil airlines, right?

Not so fast. See, here's the thing. Flying is really, really safe. Due to the irrational nature of people's emotional mind, we fixate on large accidents while multiple small ones slip by unnoticed. So every time an airliner crashes, it makes national if not worldwide headlines. But if there's a car accident nearby, even your local news station is unlikely to cover it. Consequently we've spent decades concentrating on making flying disproportionately super-safe. The FAA crunched the numbers, and determined that if a family with a child decided to travel for vacation, the odds of the child dying in a plane accident - as a lap child - were lower than the odds of the child dying in a car accident while strapped into a car seat. So to encourage people to fly instead of drive with their child on vacation, they allow the family to fly without having to pay for an extra seat for the child.

The lap child policy saves lives, despite its horrific outcome when the statistics don't work your way and there's a lap child aboard a plane which does crash. (As for forcing airlines to give children a free seat, that doesn't work either because they don't know until the time of the flight exactly how many people will be aboard. The way the industry operates is to slightly overbook because on average a certain percentage of people will miss their flights. When that gambit fails and more people show up for the flight than there are seats on the plane, someone has to be bumped off the flight. Forcing them to hold an unknown number of seats in reserve for "surprise" undeclared children would shift the number of passengers for a "booked" flight down, forcing them to raise the per-seat price, which again would encourage parents of young children to drive instead of fly.)

Morality is hard.

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