* Posts by Charles 9

6873 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

FCC clicks off the safety, fires at America's great cable TV box rip-off

Charles 9
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Re: le -sigh-

"Presumably the US has no such equivalent, in theory or in practice?"

No. In fact, if a company looks at customers first without considering the investors, the investors can SUE the company for failure of fiduciary duty and be compensated for it. Remember, the investors are the actual owners of the company (it's their money on the line), so property rights kick in, and doing something against an owner's wishes is considered defrauding that owner.

"Obviously nobody ever bothers with this, and the consequences of ignoring it are nil, but this is The Law as it has been in the UK for a few years."

Because it's very, VERY hard to tell an owner what to do with the stuff he/she owns. They can legally argue that laws that limit an owner are a restraint on their property rights and thus an unfair limit on their freedoms. The only reason the UK can get away with it is because, due to the precedent of the superiority of the Crown, property rights aren't as strong, but in just about any country, no owner is forced by law to provide service of any kind. Push come to shove, they can pack up and leave taking everything with them. Economics pretty much foretells this fate if the Supply and Demand curves stop intersecting.

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Charles 9
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Re: le -sigh-

Tell that to the INVESTORS. Fiduciary duty demands investors come first.

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Charles 9
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Re: Meanwhile

Depends. My cable provider provides this service gratis with whatever service is already in use (doesn't even go against the data cap), but not all are like that, and remember that many providers have data caps. Accessing the content you want runs the very real risk of being charged for overage, meaning they get you either way.

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Charles 9
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Re: Cheep....

Yours is NOT a decent-sized market. I'm in a community of around 100,000, the coverage map says I can get 4, maybe 5, but because of the geography it also says I'll need an amplified directional antenna to get most of them.

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Charles 9
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Re: Cheep....

Problem being the reception can be hit or miss plus those "cheap" antennas only work if you're in a good area. If you're nestled in a valley or have things like trees blocking your skyline, you're likely SOL. Trust me, I've tried. Used to be cablecos sent those stations in the clear but won the argument that satellite providers are required to scramble due to technical limitations (namely, due to the wide coverage of satellites, they have to broadcast ALL the local stations at once and limit the stations at the receiver end).

Plus the FCC mandate only applies to local terrestrial broadcast stations: typically no more than a handful of stations at once (usually 3 or 4, maybe 7 or 8 if you're lucky, plus most are beholden to the big networks, including NBC which is owned by Comcast). Your average nonbroadcast TV provider offers about 50 channels on the low end and over 100 with the standard packages.

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Charles 9
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One thing that should be noted in the article is that, until just now, cablecos were still transmitting a baseline of channels in analog that was capable of being picked up by cable-ready TVs without additional equipment.

BUT those analog channels are going away to make room for more broadband and more HD channels (the analog channels can't do due to anachronistic limitation), and the cablecos won't unscramble the baseline digital channels, noting the satellite and fiber companies don't have to.

So no a fair-sized chunk of customers are about to be left in the lurch with old TVs that won't be able to pick up ANY channels without plunking more money down to the cablecos every month. I suspect this is one other big reason for the FCC's decision today.

As for building it into TVs, they tried that with DCAS but given the continual pace of technology it's best to leave the tuner part out of the TV in case standards change again in the future (the original CableCard standard, for example, had to be upgraded because it only worked in one direction--stuff like Video on Demand requires the ability to talk back). Perhaps an alternative would be a standardized way to insert add-on modules to the backs of large-enough TVs so that people only need one remote to handle all their video (perhaps via HDMI-CEC) and don't need to dangle boxes and stuff where there may not be any shelves (wall-mounted TV).

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Boffins' 5D laser-based storage tech could keep terabytes forever

Charles 9
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Re: Re:1974 film Zardoz

"Unfortunately, I don't think there is even a theoretical material strong enough to make such an elevator."

But given how old the idea is, you would think someone would've put the concept to bed at this point by mathematically proving that a material capable of being the cable for a space elevator cannot physically exist due to exceeding physical limits on material strength or whatever. The fact we haven't seen such a proof indicates it's still possible but we haven't come up with the right combination of materials.

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Charles 9
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Re: Not sure I understrand the number of dimensions.

Perhaps they mean how much of the individual voxel is "occupied" If Length, Width, and Depth indicates the sizes of rooms, Size would be how full is each room while Orientation would indicate which way the furniture is turned.

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Charles 9
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Re: re. voxel

They may be stretching the definition here a little bit, but I can see the point. Each point of data in this design supposedly is a volumetric element, just not of uniform size or orientation (thus the additional two dimensions).

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Charles 9
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Note they also said a specific temperature, so I imagine they physically measured the degree of deformation the substrate experienced during their experiment and extrapolated a point at which the data is too degraded to recover. IOW, it's a number to perhaps take with a pinch of salt but at least they can explain how they came up with it. Plus note the temperature was actually quite high (close to 500K) and nowhere near standard temperature or your average room temperature. As noted, glass is actually extremely stable as long as you don't get it up near the melting point (in fact that why glass is rather brittle--it has no "give").

PS. We've been hearing about holographic crystalline data storage for decades now (add Babylon 5 to the Sci-Fi worlds that make use of it in their fiction), but we've yet to see them actually get out of the lab. The end of the article, though, hopefully paints a different picture. Let's hope we can actually get our hands on this for an archival medium in the near future.

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Charles 9
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Re: Re:1974 film Zardoz

"In a nod to another comment I have made today, he also proposed a space elevator, to reduce the energy required to get into LEO."

At least that idea has a concrete status: Not Possible YET. We've already got a pretty decent idea of the physical characteristics needed to pull it off. We just haven't found or invented a material able to tick all the marks yet.

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Terrified robots will take middle class jobs? Look in a mirror

Charles 9
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"The process is well underway in the US at least. Schools don't teach people to think and even the subjects they do teach are dumbed down because.. well we can't leave anyone behind..."

Well, some of them DO have a point. After all, if you DO leave children behind, what do you do with the rejects? Make the standard too tough and you could the up in a situation like Japan and South Korea, where the intense pressure causes them to have the worst suicide rates in the industrialized world.

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Charles 9
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Re: I'm more worried about stability of society than displacement.

"If you have a big shop, a human operated till is much faster."

Unless the only human-operated tills ALL have lines going halfway to the intimates (and this is the norm these days).

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Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

Charles 9
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Re: Authorities have ever right to unlock the phone of a criminal

Not if it causes collateral damage. If the means to unlock the criminal's phone necessarily unlocks everyone else's phones (and the design of it may well make this part and parcel), now you have the Fourth (search and seizure) and Sixth (presumption of innocence) Amendments to contend with.

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Charles 9
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Re: Not Concerned Here

The problem is that ANY means found to get around the lock would be considered worth more than its weight in Bitcoin. Miscreants will be dying to leak this knowledge out and make it work in the general case.

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Charles 9
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Re: An easy way to break encryption?

"If they have the encrypted text and the unencrypted plain text, do they not then have the key to reading all similarly encrypted texts?"

Not necessarily. What you describe is a form of Known Plaintext Attack:

- Given X and X', find Y such that E(X, Y) = X'

A good cipher tries to make that problem difficult to solve.

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Charles 9
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Re: Are there any precedents with other forms of security?

That's why they employ safe crackers. Anyway, the analogy is flawed. More accurately would be to say they're trying to retrieve contents from a booby-trapped safe rigged to blow if it's opened by any way other than the combination. Only problem is the only person who knows the combination is dead and the booby-trap has a fail-deadly vigilance check. If it's not opened within a few days it blows itself up. And yes, if I recall, it IS possible to build a one-way fail-deadly mechanism where the only way it'll resolve is by exploding. One such device was set in a casino a few decades back.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why Trev Pott is wrong - a privacy advocate's view

"Unless they can break into Apple and steal the key used to sign iOS updates. Hopefully Apple restricts access to that to a few people, and keeps it on an air gapped system, but obviously I have no knowledge of their procedures."

If the bad guys want something badly enough, they'll hire insiders. Or find weaknesses. Remember, at least one of Sony's PS3 private keys got compromised and more and more malware is being signed with genuine keys that were likely stolen (so they not only can pass authentication checks but also can't be voided without collateral damage), so it's not outside the realm of reality.

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Brits unveil 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

Charles 9
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Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

"Ultra light weight construction means it will be a death trap in an accident."

Even with very strong lightweight materials?

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Charles 9
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Getting up a hill relies a lot on the drive's torque, as the rotational force applied to friction is what allows it to fight gravity on the incline. We know it can do 0-60 in about 10sec on the flat, and acceleration helps gives us a ballpark for the torque. How does this compare to other cars and how they can handle hill climbs?

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Toshiba rolls out PC-busting monster: 1 terabyte TLC flash SSD

Charles 9
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Re: Why SATA

That may explain it since most of the laptops I see come from secondhand stores: either hocked off or given away to make room for new ones. Thing is, I routinely find new life in many of these devices. I routinely use a dual-core AMD x64, for example, that started with 512MB and was pushed up to 4GB for $20, turning it from unworkable to quite the dependable work device. And this is replacing an OLD P4 laptop that I pushed up to 1GB but eventually found too clunky (mainly, it uses USB1 ports and the CD drive on it--the only thing it can boot other than the hard drive--is just about dead; I only keep it because it has a 1600x1200 screen handy for remote work.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why SATA

Fair enough. That's what I do, too. It's a lot cheaper to get the SODIMMS aftermarket. But I'm pointing out that unless it's a late Win7 laptop or later, chances are it's going to be under-provisioned in RAM going forward, especially if the laptops you run into (like mine) are from the XP era.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why SATA

"I upgrade a lot of laptops old and new and the SSD is the best thing period. RAM is secondary....very secondary. Most have come with 4GB for the past 6 years so they are at least functional on that point."

Then we're in different worlds because I'm lucky to find a laptop with 4GB standard (I eventually got one, but as an exception to the rule). Most I run into (and they're about the same age range as yours, about five years) are lucky to have 1GB on board and frequently only have 512MB. And trying to run anything serious on XP+ or even a recent Linux distro on something THAT small is Chug City. No amount of disk speed is going to save you from a thrashfest (not to mention thrashing adds wear and tear to your drives), in which case the RAM takes priority over the disk.

PS. I DO game and do a lot of media work. I'm getting ready to step up to a Core i5 that'll double my throughput but I want to put some extra work into it first.

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Charles 9
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"I bought a 1"TB" drive from Amazon for £142 last month. That's getting to sensible price points and certainly not as much as the PC."

For less, I can buy 5TB from a brick and mortar, WITH all the markup that entails, so from where I sit the gap is still too big.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why SATA

I'm inclined to think maxing out the RAM is the single best thing, as it takes out one of the big issues with too little RAM: thrashing due to paging (and thrashing is not a good thing for SSDs, either). Furthermore, most laptop RAM is pretty cheap, especially for old laptops that don't use cutting-edge SODIMMs (ex. I upgraded a pretty old laptop from 512MB to 4GB for about $20). That said, switching out the hard drive for an SSD is still the second best thing.

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Charles 9
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Re: It needs a serious pair for Toshiba to do this...

Still gonna need a bulk storage medium for the medium term, and the money for that is going to be on this taking over spinning rust in that department, unless that 5D Crystalline tech manages to shake things up.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why SATA

Legacy issues. My computer, for example, is almost nine years old. Back then, PCI Express was primarily for graphics cards (mine's a 1.0 with only one x16 slot and one x1 slot). Solid-state PC drives hadn't even hit the market yet. But it DOES have plenty of SATA ports. There are many old laptops out there that work perfectly fine...but could stand a bit of a boost, and after you max out the memory, switching out the hard drive for a SSD is a solid next step, but many of them are pre-NVMe and of course don't have any spare PCIe slots, so the only option is to use the existing SATA bus.

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Charles 9
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Re: DVD still outsells Blu-Ray

"Broadly speaking, children's movies and "serious" dramas tend to do better on DVD, summer blockbusters do better on Blu-Ray."

Probably due to the target. The stuff trending towards DVDs are probably being targeted for portable players (where resolution is less of a selling point, thus why you don't hear much of portable BluRay players). The blockbusters are normally snatched up for home theaters where you can see and hear the difference.

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Charles 9
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4 times is still a bit over the top, plus there's the matter of bulk storage needs (where the price shoots up considerably). Get it down to around 2x even at high capacities and then you can declare a sunset on spinning rust (much as getting players below $100US was pretty much the sign that BluRay had overtaken DVD as the movie disc format of choice).

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Charles 9
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One thing's also not noted: the PRICE. Sure in terms of sheer performance SSD's going to eventually overtake spinning rust, but in terms of mass market adoption, they're going to have to do something about the price first, and if similar products are any indication, the prices will be such that anyone outside of an enterprise setting will probably wince.

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Google to snatch control of Android updates from mobe makers – analyst

Charles 9
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Moving core OS to Google's control is, on the balance of things, for the better given they can push updates out faster without the red tape. I'm pretty sure the handset makers will still find ways to customize the UI through Overlays (introduced in Lollipop, I think). If they use overlays, I would prefer if Google allowed us the option to disable them, though I understand this is going to be something of a give and take with the handset makers.

Frankly, this would take care of most of the reasons I root my phone these days. Now if they can just mandate the last one (allow for local Nandroid backups from stock in case of Murphy)...

PS. Any bets Android N will be slow in coming so as to push this new idea?

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Charles 9
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Re: ...absolutely no options for handset makers to make any changes..

No, I think the handset makers will still be able to customize the UI to some degree. Isn't that what Overlays will be all about?

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Charles 9
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Re: Ooh.. ooh! Cant have that!

That excuse went out the door with Stagefright. Now Google's under legal pressure to take control of updates in order to cover its kiester. With more coverage of exploits and increased risk of such a device divulging State secrets, Google will want to prevent a repeat performance lest something slip and put them legally on the hook for allowing it.

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Samsung now pushing Marshmallows into the Galaxy S6, Edge

Charles 9
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Re: You can have a single worldwided model that supports all bands

"That's not really true anymore, and it was never an issue of chipset so much as an issue of the discretes like power amplifiers and antenna switches, but Qualcomm sells a solution for this (google qualcomm rf 360)"

I've looked. So far as I know, no one's using it or we'd see a phone that can advertise "compatible with ALL LTE bands worldwide". Since I've yet to see one and given this would be quite a selling point for a globe-hobber, I have to assume something else is getting in the way.

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Charles 9
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Then you end up with something like Stagefright which is a potential total pwnage exploit that means practically EVERY phone is vulnerable, including the ones that are EOL but can still put Google in the hole for the security hole.

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Charles 9
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Re: Which flagships?

Can't. Radio frequencies aren't universal, and they haven't invented the universally tunable cell data chip yet (some physical limitations involved).

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Stray electronic-magnetic leaks used to harvest PC crypto keys

Charles 9
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They're working on that part. It's already small enough IIRC that you could stuff it in a box and hide it in a closet somewhere.

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Charles 9
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Point being TEMPEST is such onerous that only the most important of computers are given the treatment. Now, these researchers are saying it can be done ANYWHERE, with inexpensive, not-too-hard-to-conceal equipment, meaning practically nothing is safe. Imagine the effect on business budgets if every single piece of electronics in their firms had to be given TEMPEST-level hardening.

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Charles 9
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Re: White noise jamming

Radio antennae can be made highly directional and highly frequency-selective (like a Yagi), allowing you to zero in on your target with enough precision to penetrate most of the noise.

As for getting enough iterations, just use a commonly-used encrypted target and hit the sniffer each time it's being decrypted (you can hide the device in a box in a closet, maybe).

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Brit spies can legally hack PCs and phones, say Brit spies' overseers

Charles 9
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Re: Good 4 the Goose

Except shortly after, some smarter cookies found a way around the divide and conquer approach: the political party. Not even George Washington (a man who saw this coming, BTW) couldn't avoid being labeled a Federalist while Democratic-Republicans would basically come to rule the roost for the next decade or so. Who cares how many pieces you divide the state if you've got insiders in all the pieces? And since the stakes are so high, someone WILL make the effort to do that. Why do you think the US is so dysfunctional today even with separation of powers? Because people naturally try to collect power, so they naturally try to find ways around barriers. To the point it's now a highly-polarized political landscape that has adopted the "my way or the highway" approach. Compromise has become a four-letter word (and a one-way ticket out of Washington), and those inside feel better to let nothing happen than to give an inch to The Enemy.

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Charles 9
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Re: Re. This is why

"Hint: why are random resource sucking games installed on a new phone in the first place?"

Because the developers are paying the phone manufacturers to do it, meaning it helps defray the cost of the phone, making it more affordable?

Put it this way. Many people aren't prepared to pay the complete, unsubsidized cost of a smartphone without any sponsorships or subscription plans.

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This Android Trojan steals banking creds and wipes your phone

Charles 9
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Re: Darwin is calling

Quote from the article:

"The Mazar BOT Android malware is read using booby-trapped multi-media messages. If installed, the malware gains admin rights that give it the ability to do almost anything with a victim's phone." (Emphasis mine)

Multimedia messages means MMS, and an Android exploit using MMS at this point probably means it's a Stagefright exploit, unless you can point where it says otherwise.

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Charles 9
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Re: Darwin is calling

Ever considered this is a Stagefright-based exploit, meaning the Install dialogue never appears? Instead, the malware rides the MMS straight through to System, gains root permissions, and goes from there all without your knowledge? Remember, many phones are prone to Stagefright AND at EOL meaning they'll never be patched to fix the exploit.

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Earthquake-sensing smartphone app fires off early alerts of disaster

Charles 9
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The Christchurch earthquake wasn't the type that could've provided any practical warning. First, the epicenter of the quake was out to sea, so no one would be there to detect it. Second, it was only 15km offshore, meaning the seismic waves wouldn't have to travel very far. Any Primary/Secondary lag time would be measured in seconds.

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31 nations sign data-sharing pact to tax multinationals

Charles 9
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Re: I note that America...

"Not exactly. They are sending their money through tax havens and may be buying US dollars in those tax havens. I very much doubt they are letting their money actually sit in the US.

Even US billionaires don't do that."

Actually, they do, just not as currency. The richest of the richest know the best place for wealth is in real estate, which by its very nature naturally appreciates due to increasing rarity and cannot be taxed as long as it's simply held. When they need money, they borrow against it and then hold the debt until they die when their heirs can employ a trick called the carryover basis to rebase the assets and dodge capital gains taxes when they sell off some of the assets to pay off the inherited debts. I believe they call that "Tax Planning 101".

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The Nano-NAS market is now a femto-flop being eaten by the cloud

Charles 9
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Re: Also: streamed video

Except, like I said, when data caps come into play. Besides, why waste bandwidth more than once. Download the silly thing and watch it as you download, then when you're done hold onto it, offload it so you can watch it again later on, and never have to worry about connections or removal of the piece from the service ever again. If there's one reason to be a multimedia packrat, it's because you never know when your source is going to disappear, and nothing beats local storage (with suitable redundancy) for assuring you have it no matter what.

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Charles 9
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Re: Also: streamed video

Isn't that hampered by low data caps, though?

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Most developers have never seen a successful project

Charles 9
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Re: Again I don't think it's methology

Problem is, real world projects tend to carry the burden of necessary complexity. Suppose you have a project that has to to A which depends on B which depends on both C and D which both depend on E that in turn depends on A. You pretty much get caught in an all-or-nothing situation because of these interrelations, not to mention the increased demand for software security means you MUST take a look at the entire codebase due to the problem of "gestalt" security holes (as in greater than the sum of the parts) that only appear when all the pieces come together. Then you find the bug that requires a change to one piece that cascades onto all the rest.

It's like my challenge to the UNIX program philosophy. How can you "Do One Thing And Do It Well" when your one thing depends on so many other things: not all of which you can expect to cooperate with you?

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Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Charles 9
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Don't be so sure. Thorium still produces weaponizable Uranium (U-233, I think) in its fuel cycle, and a determined state actor out of options may go through the lengths to extract it.

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Drones are dropping drugs into prisons and the US govt just doesn't know what to do

Charles 9
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Re: alternatively

"Legalize ALL drugs. Evolution in action."

Many drug users don't live in isolation. What are you going to do if there's a resulting rise in widows and orphans? It's like with the divorce dilemma: outlaw divorce and you'll likely see an increase in spousal homicides.

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