* Posts by Charles 9

4174 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

FCC honcho: Shifting our crusty phone network to IP packets starts now

Charles 9
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Re: Power supply

"In theory, wireline telephone numbers have been disconnected from geography since 1997 when local number portability was mandated."

Yes, but what about the area codes as well? I'm talking about telephone numbers that can follow a person on a global scale. After all, one VOIP packet is not so different from the next. Cell phones come closest now, but due to the network structure, there's the matter of roaming. Perhaps I think a bit too ambitiously since even IPv6 relies on the address to facilitate routing, but something of the sort could at least be looked at.

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Charles 9
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Re: Power supply

Perhaps that's one of the things that should be brought up: power failover.

If we look at this from the angle of, "We need to update the telephone system. What should we be doing?" I say let give them all the input we can.

- As you mentioned, POTS provides its own DC power which allow phones to operate without need for mains. Perhaps something like this should be preserved.

- How will a switch to IP telephone affect telephone access: numbers, area codes, exchanges, and zoning? Will they be preserved or change to reflect a larger potential access pool? If telephone access need not be tied to geography anymore, could any telephone number, not just a cell number, be portable from place to place?

- While on the subject of fax machines, many consumer and enterprise devices interact with POTS systems, typically by way of an analog modem (faxes use modems, too, just to a different signal spec). Since retrofitting to an all-IP system may be cost-prohibitive, an assurance that analog modems can transit safely could be in order at least in the short term.

- Which version of IP will the new system use? More than likely IPv6 since it would be a relatively clean slate and provide much more room for growth. If all new telephone devices were to be aligned to a single 64-bit network prefix, that still leaves an umpteen number of possible numbers for each device (based on my rough math, about 10,000,000 entries for a population approaching 10 billion). We can figure out the organization as we go, but there's plenty of leeway for it.

- Someone mentioned security in communications vs. government oversight. I don't know if one can make a guaranteed secure communication between Alice and Bob that's proof against Mallory or Gene MITM'ing it. However, we can perhaps at least establish a system by which the average conversation, so far as it is aware, cannot be idly picked out of the air by way of a system like TLS (perhaps in an improved or modified form) to handshake an encrypted link between the parties. My concern about this, however, is that any security protocol weakens over time, and this would create the occasional problem of updating/upgrading devices so as to replace protocols as they age.

That's all off the top of my head. But let's look at this more constructively. If we're going to establish a new telephone system, instead of complaining about conspiracies and the like, why don't we voice constructive comments and so on and and at least try to tell them what we actually want? Whether or not they listen is perhaps beyond us, but at least we'll have honestly voiced ourselves.

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Haters of lurid supershow CES: The consumer tech market is still SHRINKING

Charles 9
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Re: Misunderestimated Market

"It doesn't make any sense, but Humans rarely do. It certainly isn't something you can plot on a bubble chart (I hate bubble charts) or begin to quantify. It's pure emotional reaction and you can't account for that. Why do you think there are so many products in every category? It sure as fuck isn't about giving the consumer choice. It's throwing everything imaginable at the consumer and trusting in the laws of probabilities that something will stick, eventually."

Thing is, in making so many models, you have to pay for their manufacture. Meaning you're taking a gamble, plus with so many models you run the risk of overextending: making stuff that's not likely to sell and end up getting eaten. Also, things like TVs are tough to make good margins on, especially in a market like this with stiff competition.

As for myself, I seem to be in the minority, as I actually did the research when I bought my last TV (replaced a dying set). Once I decided on a size, I played the field, checked out the different manufacturers, different tiers of features, and so on. I also chose to wait. As it turns out, timing helps when it comes to TVs. It's best to buy a TV around February or March, the end of the model year. At that point, stores need to mark down older TVs to get them out to make room for new ones. This means plenty of bargains, and I eventually made my purchase then: a nice TV I had studied thoroughly.

I suppose there are different levels of X for "I want X". Some like me just say, "I want an X" and work from there; others say, "I want X, Y, Z right now!" I admit sometimes to being tempted by emotion and so on, but perhaps there's a Vulcan streak in me in that I've found myself needing to justify the purchase AND do so with a decent amount of reason; I've actually been able to curb my instincts and walk away from more then a few buys: usually because I learn something that allows me to go, "On second thought..."

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Charles 9
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"4k TVA look absolutely gorgeous so I'd say they are very welcome. The only reason I'd pass on one now is the lack of content that really takes advantage of it."

The trouble is, based on what we've been hearing from the content providers, they've gone into full paranoia mode for 4K content. They want to make sure there's no chance in at least five years or so that anyone can rip 4K content from their media. Sounds to me like they'll develop and patent proprietary everything to cover their bases. Unique media and player devices, new protocols and cabling designs, probably even new TV designs equipped with end-to-end cryptosystems, probably even suicide hardware at the display end to prevent wiretapping. And they've already said flat out, ABSOLUTELY NO general purpose hardware will be allowed anywhere near them.

IOW, if you want to play 4K, it'll be by their rules; otherwise, you go home.

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Charles 9
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But one could say the same thing about HDTV vs. SDTV. Is it the high resolutions selling TVs these days or the slimmer designs?

For now, my view is that UHD/4K/whatever sets just aren't needed in the consumer market. I mean, just how high a resolution do you need? Where I see things like this being adopted more is in the professional market, where the tech can be enlarged and be used more for presentations.

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Block The Pirate Bay? Arrr, me hearties, new P2P client could sink that plan

Charles 9
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Re: It's a question of trust -- @ DrXym

"Of course, another option is for them to switch to another revenue stream, e.g. a bitcoin micropayment and no ads, but presumably it would still suffer many of the same issues and more besides."

You realize they ALREADY accept donations in both Bitcoin and Litecoin.

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Charles 9
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But at the same token, how do you target something that's outside legal jurisdiction but is still dangerous (say, a malware site)? Especially when it's being housed by what could be considered a "hostile" power?

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Charles 9
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I think the approach is more analogous to Bitcoin than to Freenet. The idea seems to be that everyone syncs up their copy of the torrent list with everyone else. Much like Bitcoin's ledger.

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Charles 9
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Re: The problem with this

Well, for P2P DNS solutions like yacy and Namecoin are already popping up.

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Gorilla Glass fights dirty, dirty germs with antimicrobial coating

Charles 9
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"And all that would be mostly useless, because we already have one of the best microbial barriers : our skin."

The gloves I can see barring the fact they can cover up cuts through which microbes can directly invade the blood). But wouldn't the fact that orifices provides paths past the skin tell us we should still do masks? Or are they moot by the fact they can slip through gaps and still get in?

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Charles 9
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Re: Might be useful

Silver has similar antimicrobial properties. Makes me wonder which one is better (copper or silver) when put head to head.

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Charles 9
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AIUI, the action of this glass is closer to that of bleach than that of triclosan: on a raw chemical level that makes it harder to build resistance.

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'BILLION-YEAR DISK' to help FUTURE LIFEFORMS study us

Charles 9
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Re: Additional test results

How stable are oxide crystals? Might they also have properties that would make them unsuitable for a protective layer (for example, you wouldn't want to use quartz since it's piezoelectric--a chance current or lightning bolt could make it crush anything it contained)? Plus, what about their hardness? At 8.5 on the Mohs scale, Silicon Nitride is no slouch (To compare, Quartz is a 7).

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Charles 9
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Re: Additional test results

Please note one other important qualification: it has to be TRANSPARENT. So it has to be geologically stable and at least translucent throughout the billion-year timeframe.

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Charles 9
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Re: Cave Drawings?

True, but their storage capacity is limited. Not to mention we're not certain we're reading these stone media correctly; language gets very inconsistent when it's measured in geologic time. Meanwhile, the sum total of human knowledge appears to be beyond that capacity, so we need a cleverer way. This seems to be an attempt at this: using varying levels of "density" to allow for both compact and human-readable levels of data preservation.

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Hacker backdoors Linksys, Netgear, Cisco and other routers

Charles 9
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Re: Simple solution

"The private key has to be present on the system that's getting the HTTPS requests to be able to authenticate the public key in the router. The next time there's a vulnerability found in the web server software being used, hackers will grab the private key."

Such a server wouldn't have to be sophisticated. Such a setup I would hope to make as simple as possible to limit possible avenues. For example, if I could, I wouldn't use SQL in it. Also, perhaps you can run the process through a closed cryptosystem such that the web server never knows the key but shuttles data through a black box (which the server, and thus the malware) can't otherwise reach.

That just leaves session hijacking, but we're seeing ways to mitigate that.

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Charles 9
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Re: ISP backdoors

"A savvy user would give them the reply they expect. ;-)"

Savviness won't help you if you don't know what they're expecting. Besides, depending on the design, there may not be a way to feed the connection false information (if, for example, it triggers a hardware-based check or requests encoded or obfuscated data to test for altered firmware).

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Charles 9
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Re: Simple solution

If I wanted to do automated updates, I'd use HTTPS using an unpublished key. The devices would carry the public half of the key. If the hackers obtain it, oh well, because they can't hack the update system without the private key that never leaves the facility. I don't recall there having been many private key thefts of late.

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AT&T takes aim at T-Mobile with $450 cashback lure

Charles 9
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Too many suckers in the market. The music companies can make more than enough just on them to care about anything else.

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Charles 9
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There's predatory pricing (better known as loss-leading) and then there's dumping (bleeding so as to make your competition bleed itself out). Dumping IS NOT allowed under anti-competition laws AND the SEC already has AT&T under scrutiny because they disapproved of them buying out T-Mobile. If T-Mobile cries foul (especially since THEY were the target of the failed buyout), there's a pretty good chance the SEC would then put AT&T under the microscope for potential anti-competition violations.

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Charles 9
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Thing is, couldn't that be construed as dumping: selling at a big loss so as to drive out competition? If so, AT&T can't keep the promo up for too long before either they lose too much to keep it up or the SEC starts asking questions (and remember, AT&T already has a strike against it with the SEC for the hand-smack they got for trying to buy out T-Mobile). In either case, T-Mobile need only weather the storm for a short time. T-Mobile's current plans have a longer reach and are paying off already; furthermore, they're playing the image card against AT&T, which can make this "incentive" backfire if it makes AT&T look desperate.

I was once with AT&T (through Cingular), but their rates have never been acceptable for me (not even prepaid). I was happy with T-Mobile for two years, then went to a T-Mobile-based MVNO that gives me unlimited talk and text and 1GB of high-speed data (which is more than enough for me, plus EDGE data is free) for $45 after taxes. I may switch back to T-Mobile if they can present a nice plan that includes Visual Voicemail (plus they properly support short codes), but for now I can wait.

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App to manage Android app permissions

Charles 9
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Re: Open Source FTW

Well, you gotta remember the app permission model was demanded by the app developers. Otherwise, they would never have left the walled garden that is the Apple App Store. Which would you prefer: lots of apps where they call the shots or you get to call the shots but no one wants to play? Sorry, no third option available.

I DO agree, however, with the idea of requiring justifications for each permission to be described.

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Charles 9
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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

The custom ROM I have has a Privacy Guard built into the settings.

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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

"With the latter threat in mind, the more people who are able to load OSS operating systems on stock hardware, e.g. replacing Android with CyanogenMod, or BusyBox based router OSS replacements makes it harder for NSA sponsored mass hardware manufactured vulns to hide."

That still wouldn't do much against a true black bag operation that hides in an ancillary hardware chip (like the radio chip). The chip would be impossible to update, essential for operation, ubiquitous enough to be practically everywhere, and a trade secret to the manufacturer so there will be no useful information on it. No amount of source code inspection will help against it, and since the tech goes into patent-protected grounds, it's not legally feasible to roll our own solutions.

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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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How the NSA hacks PCs, phones, routers, hard disks 'at speed of light': Spy tech catalog leaks

Charles 9
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Re: SEASONEDMOTH ?

Yes, they do. Acronyms and initialisms are SOP for the US DoD. For one thing, it reduces chatter. For another, as another poster noted, it makes textual communication more precise. Both objectives are militarily significant.

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Charles 9
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Re: Pitiful LyingLoser Alarmist much? @Plump & Bleaty

""I can't consider a government to be properly democratic when they build sophisticated and comprehensive interception into the web...." All you are doing is demonstrating that you do not understand what democratic means - it is not a government that reflects the views and actions you alone feel right but the will of the majority, nothing to do with "interception". And it is very clear from the article they are not building interception "into the Web" but into a very small and targeted set of individuals. Try READING the article before bleating."

ANY government made by man will, because of human instinct, repress SOMEONE by virtue of some concentration of power. Even a pure democracy introduces "tyranny of the majority". And as we've seen, republics and other representative governments limit the number of people powerful interests need to corrupt to get things done. Smaller oligarchies magnify that issue, and for a government of one...well, Machiavelli wrote a lot about that. In fact, a lack of government (anarchy) would inevitably result in a "survival of the fittest" scenario: itself repressive.

"".....The people need to have some idea of what's going on so they can choose alternatives....." What you just can't get your noodle round is that your fantasy viewpoint is firmly in the tiny minority, otherwise the irate mobs would be storming Number 10 and Whitehall and demanding GCHQ was burnt to the ground. And as for "some idea of what's going on", the fact is there were plenty of us with a clue (so not including you) that found Snowden's "revelations" as just mildly interesting, having seen plenty of evidence over the years. It's not my fault if you lived with your head in the sand."

Ever heard the phrase "bread and circuses". Sure, some of us are onto the idea, but NOT ENOUGH. It's one smart vote vs. ten dumb votes. The average person lacks the kind of mind capable of CARING about the loss of their own liberties and so on.

"".....this interception is a kind of power and this power will be subverted from 'finding terrorists' to 'finding violent criminals and peedos' to ''finding domestic criminals' to 'trawling for potential criminal behaviour' to 'trawling for political dissent'....." Really? Except the "interceptions" (mainly just metadata collection, actually, not interceptions) have been going on for YEARS and there has not been one single incident of what you are insisting (based solely on your shrieking paranoia) should have been well evident by now. The reason it's not evident is because it only exists in the dim and dark recesses of the tiny minds of easily-led sheeple like you."

Have you ever read 1984? Ever thought that when they want you gone, it won't be a public arrest in the street but rather you just vanish and become among the untold numbers simply "missing"?

"....BTW that's what will happen in our & other western countries...." And your evidence for this is.... Oh, what a surprise, you have SFA evidence to back up that piece of fear-induced fantasy. Get a grip, get a clue, and get over yourself, you're simply not of any interest to ANYONE.

Name ONE country that has maintained the same governmental structure and stability for more than 500 years (no changeovers of power between groups, no dynasty changes or the like). The United States is too young to qualify, England had a brief time without a kind almost 400 years ago, and Russia and China had Communist revolutions just in the last century. Inevitably, the gravitation of power combined with human instinct causes things to tip past the comfort zone. If it tips pretty early, you end up with minor upheavals that require reforms and the like to fix; on the outside, you may end up with something like a regime change. If the discontent builds too high, though, you either collapse into totalitarian regimes that squelch rebellion quick as a rule or breakups and shakeups that result in multiple new lands that split the power and start the cycle again.

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

Charles 9
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Re: BS

The house gets a good charge since I'm talking putting this concentrator over a solar collector installed on the roof of a house and tied to the house's grid, NOT the car, which could instead tap into a lead coming FROM that collector.

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Charles 9
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Re: BS

"Reasonable quality fresnel lenses will go around a hundred bucks for a 10" x 10" so for an average car port of around 15 square metres of roof you will be looking at about $30.000 just for the concentrator, add the price of the horrible hybrid and then try to figure an ROI!"

Are we talking glass or polycarbonate? Linear beam or spot beam? We may also have to allow for quality variances. I mean, it doesn't have to be perfect. Most of the lenses I've been seeing in my research do achieve at least an 8x rating even with minor imperfections. A large linear fresnel lens with a 8-9x power isn't likely to be as expensive as you describe, making it more viable.

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Charles 9
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Re: Would like to see this tried on a train

I think scale's the big problem. Trying to scale down the D-E train tech down to a car's frame seems to reduce its power too much. Most cars have only two axles whereas the average locomotive has four or six, plus most cars only power one axle (more power axles = more power at the expense of needing more space for the motors). The shape of the car would help determine if you could do two direct-driven power axles as well as how big you can make them (larger motors allow more electromagnetic force, equaling more power).

And that's assuming axle motors (which is what trains use). Individual wheel motors change the math such that you can't rely on train tech as an analogue.

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Charles 9
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The problem is that distribution can itself be inefficient. Plus it introduces the points of failure and failure cascades that our current centralized system can bring. The idea behind solar-panel houses is to DEcentralize the grid and allow each unit to be capable of powering itself if need be, plus if any one unit fails, none of the others have to rely on that one, helping to prevent a failure cascade.

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Charles 9
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Re: Concentrator? Why bother? @ Charles 9

Not just a car, but a house, too. In such a scenario when the basic goal is 100% power coverage throughout the day (a fully self-powered house, IOW), the primary design philosophy would be, "Plan for the worst." In other words, plan conservative and base your situation on the worst-case scenario.

In that case, the worst case would be a blizzard on the winter solstice (shortest day of the year and most oblique sunlight which is in turn obscured by thick clouds and lots of snow, some of which is bound to cover the panels) plus one adjacent day. If the combination of solar collector and battery storage tech can handle that scenario, than any other scenario it encounters is likely to be easier, making the entire system viable long-term.

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

Charles 9
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Re: Battlefield Realities

That's why such a simple thing as snowshoes work. So the feet need to have a better ground surface area; that could be arranged.

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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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Snowden docs: NSA building encryption-cracking quantum computer

Charles 9
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Re: This "leak" is pure BS.

And they spent tons of money and came up with a WORKING stealth fighter AND kept it under wraps for at least two decades. They also put men (even a couple vehicles) on the moon, something no other nation has duplicated for well over 40 years. Can work both ways.

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Charles 9
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Re: OMFG, spy agency does spying

And in a world where ANYONE can be a threat?

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

Don't think in terms of individual threats but in terms of collective threats. It's like with plane crashes. Sure, they're rare, but when they go wrong, they tend to go wrong BADLY. Now scale this up to an entire country. It may be rare, but if it does, it's pretty much "Game Over." Like I said, the enabling tech is becoming easier to acquire since controls are looser now, and since we are entering an age of information, you can't put the genie back in the bottle anymore. Furthermore, it may not be a basement nuke like "The Sum of All Fears" but perhaps the subversion/hacking of an existing device: probably one already in the US to pretty much cut the time to react below the practical threshold.

Or are you basically saying that such an event, should it be conceived, would be closer to an asteroid impact: inevitable, in which case we better start praying?

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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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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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