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* Posts by Charles 9

3689 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Snowden docs: NSA building encryption-cracking quantum computer

Charles 9
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Re: Anyone remember "Freedom is the right to be uncomfortable."

"Back here in the real world, we're asking is it really likely?"

More so BECAUSE the Cold War has ended and its tech has started to scatter.

"Who would do such a thing and why?"

Someone who believes the world or humanity is unworthy. someone who wishes for religious reasons to spur on Armageddon or the like, there are a few justifications.

"We lived through the cold war in constant fear of such a thing."

Thankfully, both sides of the war were rational players. That's what made things like Mutual Assured Destruction work: a rational player balks at a suicide play. Trouble is, with the tech scattering, the odds are increasing of it falling into the hands of an IRRATIONAL player: one who would view MAD as a WINNING scenario.

"These days, everyone is the enemy."

Pretty much. And since Oklahoma City proved terror can come from WITHIN (McVeigh and company IIRC were all natural Americans), we're just about in DTA mode.

"Like I said, countries need to protect themselves, but the paranoia exhibited by the NSA and GCHQ at the moment is scarier than the unlikely alternative."

I don't know. A nuke outta nowhere, a superplague, or a vast EMP blast may just be SO scary we can't imagine it: the THOUGHT is scarier than mundane slavery because the reality would make DEATH seem a better alternative. And that's not even going into divine cataclysm like a big asteroid impact.

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Charles 9
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Re: Anyone remember "Freedom is the right to be uncomfortable."

But now I ask, what if your opposition has the potential for an act of such devastating magnitude that it can in itself threaten a nation, if not human civilization or the entire world? And note that this is NOT entirely theoretical. One powerful atomic explosion about 50 miles over South Dakota would probably create an EM pulse that knocks out the entire US, lots of Canada, and probably a chunk of Mexico as well, suddenly and near-completely. Even military tech would be hard-pressed to handle it (you CAN overwhelm a Faraday cage with a strong enough burst). And this is just one scenario.

So the USA, indeed just about every industrialized nation faces significant potential for an EXISTENTIAL threat, and in an existential threat, basically anything goes.

Perhaps I can put it like this: If it was down to a choice between global slavery and global destruction, with no third option (including abstaining), which would it be?

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Charles 9
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Re: Quantum gravy

Besides, what if THIS was a cover story to throw people off the idea the NSA ALREADY have the tech (as a black project) and are hiding it say in Utah and are ALREADY churning away? Remember, black projects can be that way because they are so far ahead of known tech that they can be game-changers (like a working stealth fighter).

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Charles 9
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Re: Not all darkness

But didn't someone else design a cross-check system to help defend against Thompson's scenario? All you'd need is one known-safe compiler (still possible by using old or unusual hardware) and you could then vet the rest of them.

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Coming in 2014: Scary super-soldier exoskeleton suits from the US military

Charles 9
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Re: Battlefield Realities

I still stand by my statement. In a tank vs. ground attack plane fight, the ground attack plane has the edge. The Allies showed this quite effectively following D-Day. The thing is, the battlefield can get complicated. Sure, a ground-attack plane can easily deal with a tank, but it has problems dealing with a pure dogfighter (that's what happened in the Battle of Britain). But deal with that shortcoming, and yes, ground attack aircraft can give ANY tank commander the willies (it was aircraft that Panzer commanders feared most, if you went by their testimonials--NOT Allied tanks).

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Charles 9
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Re: Battlefield Realities

"Most of the armor is towards the front, which under ideal conditions, you want to be pointed towards the bad guys. Turning sideways gives the enemy a much larger target to engage, the armor isn't all that thick, except on that beautiful Chobham armor on the turret and the skirts of an M1 family (mileage may vary on the Challenger II or the Leo family). Yes, the armor on top is weak."

I didn't say TURN sideways. I said MOVE sidewars: as in LATERALLY, moving to one side while STILL facing forward. Humans can readily sidestep, and we've learned to use sidestepping to our advantage: to dodge attacks and to flank defenses.

See, what I'm thinking about is a Large AGILE Target. That's why maneuverability rules the skies and why we're designing missiles that swerve as they approach and so on: we're moving more towards creating agile weapons that respond to threats by being able to change directions quickly. We already do that in the air. Imagine such a thing on the ground.

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Charles 9
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Re: Battlefield Realities

"Also, tanks place their armor in a thick belt around the low sides while letting the big flat top and bottom go almost unarmoured."

And that's exactly why tanks have their limitations, too. When the THIRD dimension (as in combat aircraft) became commonplace, tanks became a lot less dominant on the battlefield.

Perhaps that's why humanoid bipeds keep invoking the imagination: because bipedal motion allows for otherwise-unusual forms of locomotion. For example, moving SIDEWAYS (one particularly effective way to evade an incoming projectile is to move perpendicular to its trajectory). Going back to the air, this is the reason helicopters, despite their relative difficulty to control, are still too useful to ignore: unlike aircraft, helicopters can (to a point) arbitrarily maneuver through the three dimensions.

So perhaps bipedal locomotion in a machine isn't quite ready for prime time yet, but SOME means to move along the ground at arbitrary angles without having to turn would make for an excellent combat mobility advantage.

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Blame Silicon Valley for the NSA's data slurp... and what to do about it

Charles 9
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Re: OSS insufficient

And that's assuming none of the HARDware you acquire has been bugged by the NSA or some counterpart elsewhere.

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Charles 9
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Re: Chaff is the solution

The thing is, we're already working pretty hard on chaff-filtering and finding ways to distinguish the output of a machine from that of a human. IOW, we're making the Turing Test more difficult.

But perhaps an alternative solution. Suppose everyone pools assorted bits of identity (it can be their own stuff but need not be; they can make stuff up), THEN use those bits randomly to fill out identity forms. Since each bit comes from a human, it'll be more difficult to differentiate, yet because they're all shuffled around, they're essentially worthless.

Two problems I see. One is that matter of trust again. To alter existing identities (which we'd need to create constant churn to make the identities worthless), we'd need to be able to trust the randomizer with access to our accounts. Second, the site owners can begin verifications. Financial sites already do thus, usually by law, by requiring official identity documents and/or correspondence sent to physical addresses.

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Charles 9
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Re: @Repeat (pete 2) The law is not the answer

Thing is, what if the government you describe gets overthrown and the new leader(s) simply say, "Unlock everything or your family will have never existed." The main problem with your system is that it has to rely on perfect trust. Once the trust is broken, anywhere along the line, it's in the open again.

That's always been the big problem with encryption. At some point, for the data to be usable, it has to be DEcrypted. and that's where you're most vulnerable, because THIS is where trust comes in.

Thing is, we're just about at a point where you can't trust ANYONE. Which means it can all boil down two one of two scenario. Either we go into total paranoia, and all socialization will cease because we can't trust anyone, or we surrender to the inevitable result of a world where trust cannot be guaranteed: sooner or later (usually sooner), no secret will be safe and pray that civilization doesn't hinge on a secret.

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Charles 9
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Re: The law is not the answer

Trouble is, what if BOTH sides claim ownership? Then it's big guy vs. little guy again, and the big guy has all the lawyers. They can come up with the legally-verifiable claims of ownership, real or made-up. Plus they may even be able to subvert the legal system itself. It's just straight out bullying, and he has your lunch, a bat, AND a posse. Anything YOU can assert, THEY can assert with more force (and even if you strip rights from businesses, what's to stop them creating a "designee"?).

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Now THAT'S a sunroof: Solar-powered family car emerges from Ford labs

Charles 9
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Re: Concentrator? Why bother?

"You run the panels to the usual battery, which not only turbo-powers your house because your PVs are producing something 2-3X the usual W on average, but can also charge your car at night."

The problem with that is there is NO such thing as "the usual battery" when it comes to powering a whole house for say 16 hours at a time (dead of winter in northern latitudes = reduced sun hours, and those sun hours are oblique and weak by comparison). Current tech is either too risky (Lithium-based batteries run the risk of spontaneous combustion, lead-acid ones can distort and/or leak, and NiMHs suffer memory) or too bulky (again, the lead-acid situation). And since compact, safe, powerful solid-state storage has been in demand since the invention of the laptop computer, there's been no shortage of attempts to build a better battery: with only incremental steps to show for it when a giant leap is needed now to make powering a house without a generator practical.

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Charles 9
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Re: Concentrator? Why bother?

I imagine, for one thing, that would require larger and more expensive panels instead of employing physics to make do with less raw materials. Then again, perhaps take both ideas: put a large collector on the roof AND place a Fresnel concentrator on top. Nice thing is, since this is a fixed installation, you can make sure it's optimally oriented for a given location and allow one or both to track the sun through the day.

Having said that, has anyone got news of progress of handling the big problem of NIGHT operations?

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Charles 9
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Interesting idea of moving the car as needed to optimize the collection, but what if your driveway is oriented north/south, meaning the car can't move to keep up with the concentrator?

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HTC: Shipping Android updates is harder than you think – here's why

Charles 9
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Re: And that's the big problem in the mobile world

Three words: Vendor Lock-In.

The SoC makers DON'T WANT to use a common design. Their designs are basically trade secrets and are under no pressure from the phone makers to open up since integration is the buzzword in that market.

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Charles 9
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Re: And that's the big problem in the mobile world

Thing is, the homebrew coders are still behind the 8-ball because of the driver blobs (which the chipmakers will never release since they're trade secrets), and the hacks that are used to get around them are either grafted blobs or imperfect attempts to duplicate the functions.

As for your (B), considering this is happening with ALL the phone makers apart from Apple (who could care less because they ALSO own the market where the older phones get their apps), your statement basically precludes anyone EVER getting another phone ever again.

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Charles 9
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Re: at least 2 steps are problems of their own making

1) Actually, they do. The UI is one of the FEW ways a phone maker can produce a lock-in. With stock Android, people can jump to another phone maker and not lose anything. That's why EACH of the big phone makers have custom UIs, be they Sense, TouchWiz, or whatever. Even Google's default UI, the one they use for the Nexus devices, has a heavy Google bias with Google Now and so on baked in. And since a lot of the UI components require low-level (think root-level) operations (such as access to some of the hardware), it MUST be baked in. Besides, they don't want anyone ripping the UI out.

2) It's not just the chipsets (which does have a factor--each carrier can have different frequency requirements, especially in the US--and they can't necessarily be reset by drivers; sometimes they need a whole other set of chips). And note that the onus is on the handset maker because if the carrier disagrees with the finished product, they can cancel their purchase contract, meaning the phone maker is out big money; it's in their interest to make sure the carrier completes the contract--so they get PAID.

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Charles 9
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It also works because Apple controls BOTH ends of the iPhone experience: the phone AND the software. Since they BOTH make the phones AND run the app markets, they get paid either way. Old phones still need apps, so Apple can milk old phones for app revenues. That option isn't available to the Android handset makers because Google runs that market. The ONLY revenue stream available to the handset makers comes from the handsets themselves.

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Charles 9
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Re: This is the difference between Apple and Android

"Other then a few top sellers the carriers just don't care. Is upgrading the phones people already have on contract going to make them more money today?"

Heck yeah! They ALREADY got their money from the carrier (and if you upgrade early, the carrier will get you back either with a termination fee or a higher upgrade price, depending on the terms). More phone churn = more revenues to the phone makers.

"I currently use a Nexus 4 and will never buy another phone from a mobile operator. They can stuff their custom apps and services!"

Show me a Nexus with an SDXC slot and a removable battery and I'll consider it. Until then, I don't consider Google any better than the other big boys.

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Charles 9
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Re: Built In Obsolescence

It's gonna take a long time. Don't forget that they can recycle the old phones to help get materials for the new ones.

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Charles 9
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"its clear that if HTC buy a million of X component, will make sure have access to the driver source code."

But typically under NDAs; the chipmakers aren't stupid. It's one thing for a chip manufacturer to share trade secrets with a major partner, but implying this should cause the code to be released before all and sundry is too far of a stretch.

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Charles 9
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Re: It's Linux. It's Open Sores Software. Write Your Own Fucking Upgrade.

The manufacturers DON'T WANT open interfaces. For them, it's vendor lock-in, and since the phone market relies heavily on integration (SoCs, etc.), the "roll your own" element that helps drive open standards isn't there. So the manufacturers will jealously guard their trade secrets, much as nVidia and AMD keep their cutting-edge GPU driver code in blobs (so as to prevent sneaking peeks).

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Charles 9
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Re: HTC is not in a business of updates

And how pray tell do they do that when NONE of the other handset makers maintain an exclusive app market? It's the App Market that allows Apple to milk since even old phones need apps, and every app the old phones buy means they take a cut.

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Charles 9
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Re: HTC is not in a business of updates

"Even within the Android ecosystem manufacturers can create brand loyalty. Samsung owners will buy newer Samsung devices if they think they will get better support than HTC and vice versa. It's harder to do, but it still worth the effort."

Not when brand loyalty is too mercurial. Put it this way. One bad story and plenty of once-loyal customers will jump ship. Then there are people like me who have NO brand loyalty. I jumped from HTC to Samsung,but only on a consideration of features at the time. Should I need a new phone, the process will repeat. Since Google provides the common ground for Android, there's little need to stick with a particular brand unless you REALLY like their specific offerings (and no, I don't--I junked TouchWiz and installed a custom ROM pretty quick).

At least Apple has the closest we have to a captive market. If you wanna keep your apps and so on, you MUST stick with Apple. Plus since Apple controls BOTH the hardware AND the software, they can afford to milk their older phones with the app revenues. Since (IMBW) none of the handset makers run their own app markets, milking isn't an option.

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Snowden leak journo leaks next leak: NSA, GCHQ dying to snoop on your gadgets mid-flight

Charles 9
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Re: I don't get it

And THAT'S exactly what they want to tap into if you read the article.

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Snowden to warn Brits on Xmas telly: Your children will NEVER have privacy

Charles 9
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Re: Definition required

"Well sure, unknowns can kill you, but until it has presented itself it is a mere possibility, not an actual threat. You can't prepare, or even begin to prepare, for possibilities, for unknowns, you simply don't know how. By attempting the impossible you are reducing the effect of your defensive resources."

Two words: contingency planning. Learn to expect the unexpected.

"The other type of existential threat is the kind on which you have no input or control. In your Cold War example there was precisely zero you could do about that. Nothing."

That's assuming helplessness, but we can't think that way. Because, while the threat exists, it's hard to tell whether or not we CAN or CANNOT influence the threat. Indeed, in the Cold War, many times the actions of each side caused reactions on the OTHER side, giving concrete evidence of having an influence.

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Charles 9
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Re: Definition required

Ever heard the phrase, "What you DON'T know can kill you"? Just because you don't know of a threat doesn't remove it as a threat. A snake in the grass, a hidden hole in the ground, a sniper on the roof. If it can hurt or kill you, it's a threat regardless of your knowledge of it. And think about how the Cold War played out: two superpowers each staring at an existential threat in the opponent. Existential threats trip human instinct and there's basically no way we know to defuse that.

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Charles 9
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Re: Definition required

"You defend against the known and maintain agility and extra capacity to deal with unknowns. Defending against and unknown is the height of folly, cause it's unknown you know..."

The trouble is, what if every threat against you, known AND unknown, is EXISTENTIAL? The one threat that's no holds barred is the existential threat: deal with it or die, no exceptions.

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Charles 9
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Re: An Alien XSSXXXX Concept or SMARTR App .... for Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems*

""Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Thing is, when you do the same thing over and over and ACTUALLY GET a different result, you're praised for your persistence.

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Charles 9
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Re: Definition required

But the firewalls were all relative and based on a level of trust. What happens when no one trusts each other anymore because everyone has a chip on someone else?

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Charles 9
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Re: Definition required

"You kept up with everyone else, so there was a balance. You also knew who could be trusted with sensitive information and who could be relied on to gossip to anyone who would listen. You had a reasonable expectation of privacy."

But when the community is small enough or connected enough, then it's hard to hide things from ANYONE because SOMEONE with loose lips will notice and spread the word. The very FACT you were trying to cover things up DREW attention to you. Before it was the rumor mill, then it was the tabloids, now it's the Internet.

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Charles 9
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Re: Definition required

"Privacy is the most fundamental protection an individual has. Without it all other protections, rights and freedoms are as good as worthless."

Well, what happened back in the old days when there was basically no expectation of privacy because everyone in the community kept up with you?

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Charles 9
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Re: Kids DON'T WANT privacy

I don't know. What happened back in the old village days when everyone pretty much knew what everyone else was doing because there were enough eyes and gossip to go around?

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Ubuntu desktop is so 2013... All hail 2014 Ubuntu mobile

Charles 9
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Re: Monitors and Paint

Not necessarily. A dock that can connect a phone to an HDTV can just as easily hook you up to a mouse and keyboard. That's how laptop docks work, and with a little polish, the same can be done with smartphones. The main obstacle is a standardized way of doing this breakout, as most phones only have the one USB port, and AFAIK you can't do MHL, USB OTG, AND recharging simultaneously on the one port, so an alternative is needed. Perhaps using wireless display casting and Bluetooth for the mouse and keyboard, leaving the port free for charging (perhaps use that as a triggering mechanism), and this is just one idea.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why?

I think the article was hinting at a Janus approach: phone in your hand, computer in a dock (and the dock would provide the necessary breakouts for attaching mice, keyboards, etc.). The phone and the dock tech isn't mature enough just yet, but it's tantalizingly close.

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Charles 9
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Re: I've given up on complaining about Ubuntu....

For me, the escape has been Xubuntu. For its spate of quirks, XFCE for me provides a nice middle ground: functional but not too demanding.

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Charles 9
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Re: Mint and Mageia bypassed Ubuntu as the most used Linux desktop distros

"To be crystal clear about my point - no one in the world give a slightest damn about Linux desktops, let alone their sandpit wars. Get over it and buy a Mac if you can't stand Windows."

And if I hate Windows AND Mac AND routinely work in graphics so need a GUI no matter what?

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Charles 9
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Re: Microsoft's failure is Canonical's failure.

Didn't the article mention docks as a possible way for mobile devices to bridge the gap and become PCs (complete with mice and keyboards) one they become powerful enough (almost there IMO--more and more full-fat retail games are appearing on Android).

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Charles 9
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Re: Microsoft's failure is Canonical's failure.

But unlike Microsoft, Linux desktop users may be a dying breed. Seems to me like this is a leap of faith with nothing else left to lose (either they get thrown under the bus or they fall to attrition in any event).

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We don't need no STEENKIN' exploit brokers: Let's FLATTEN all bug bounties

Charles 9
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Re: "Free" market prices

So that brings up a new problem: How does one encourage people to turn in bugs like a white-hat when the opposition is a type for whom money is no object?

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Silk Road 2.0 busted! At least two arrests as federal crackdown begins

Charles 9
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Re: It's all good

"As for coke and meths well they should be marketed like champagne and vodka. Cocaine is very popular in the USA and certain British politicians."

The trouble is these some of these drugs can have side effects: FATAL ones. Cocaine can cause fatal heart attack and certain opiates like heroin can cause your heart to stop. In ONE controlled dose. I think even Ecstasy can do that in one pill. Drugs that can kill when used as directed MUST be controlled for the same reason we control uses of strong acids and the like: they're life-threatening.

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Charles 9
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Re: It's all good

"All drugs should be controlled. I believe we should have stronger controls on alcohol as one of the most dangerous, addictive and socially harmful drugs available."

But also SO ingrained in many cultures that people would sooner declare war on their countries than declare war on their vices. Look at America's Prohibition era. If people want something badly enough, they'll get it in spite of God, Man, or the Devil. That's why the US hasn't even tried anything serious with tobacco: it's in the same boat.

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Proposed California law demands anti-theft 'kill switch' in all smartphones

Charles 9
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Re: Except it doesn't deter theft

Then explain the people who rob, mug, even KILL...JUST for the phone. Taking the phone to prevent them calling 911 because you've robbed everything else on them is one thing, but mugging them and taking JUST the phone smacks of a targeted mugging.

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Charles 9
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Re: Bricked trying to organize a protest...

"the crowd sourced gatherings that we have seen in the mid-east, just might have to resort to 60's style communications to get a decent protest into action. And no one will be able to video it... when the authorities brick all the phones in the area !!"

You forget. THEY control the NETWORK. The most common tactic they use in such a case is blackouts. What's to say they also don't OTA updates with spyware built into them?

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Charles 9
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Re: Duuh!

Because you can defeat the tracking the same way you can defeat the killswitch: with a faraday bag. Inside, it's invisible to the network, and as long as it's invisible to the network, there's no way they can get to the phone.

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Charles 9
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Re: Can you think of any other consumer good @ Alan Denman

Yes, my WALLET. And since it's UNpowered, there's sod all that can be done to "killswitch" a wallet.

Besides, what's to stop thieves from carrying faraday bags to block any killswitch signals? Then they can switch it to airplane mode through the bag or take it to a faraday cage to download all the stuff at their leisure, flash a new firmware that doesn't respond to the killswitch (and probably includes malware backdoors so they can double-dip), and THEN fence it, confident it won't brick.

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Picture this: Data-wrangling boffins say they have made JPEGs OBSOLETE

Charles 9
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Re: Browser support (JPEG2000)

"Yes, but JPEG2000 is required for PDF 1.5"

Maybe that's why I typically see PDFs at v1.4 instead.

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Charles 9
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Re: Who cares about saving space over jpeg?

"Even if it could store megapixel images in a single byte it would never displace jpeg, because saving space or bandwidth for images is a problem that no longer exists in today's world. The inevitable patents, and even if made freely available, inevitable patent trolls who will claim patents on various things it does, make switching from jpeg to something new not worth whatever storage/bandwidth could be saved."

Thing is, if you ALREADY have patents for the tech when the trolls come knocking, you can use them as a defense and threaten a patent war. That's what Google did against MPEG-LA concerning VP8 tech. With defensive patents, you can threaten to invalidate the troll patents, and if your primary mode of business isn't patent-related, you have more lenient winning conditions than the trolls: all you have to do is not lose, giving you an advantage if the fight goes to court as a mutual nullification doesn't hurt you.

I think that's one reason PNG was accepted over GIF--when the LZW codec used by GIF was enforced, sentiment swung towards PNG which used the more-lenient Deflation (trading off animation for RGB color support).

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Charles 9
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Re: In a world where selfie and cat videos rule the web

Actually, compression is what allows YouTube to thrive.

Without the ability to deliver these videos (and the attached ADS) over narrow mobile pipes, where would YouTube be now?

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Charles 9
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Re: Browser support

Which was why I mentioned Google. They're in a unique position to be able to (a) simultaneously saturate both the browser and mobile markets with the tech thanks to Chrome and Android, respectively, and (b) not really the type to patent troll: only using patents defensively and getting their revenues in other ways.

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