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* Posts by Charles 9

3818 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Pulsars: the GPS beacons of the cosmos

Charles 9
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Re: Why is my prime meridian wobbling?

"It's most likely Colon didn't know about the Americas, but he was far from the first European to discover them."

Plus IIRC Vikings had taken some sojourns to the west but didn't make much of it.

What Columbus did was tip off a country (Spain) that just happened to be itching for exploration. Asia was pretty much closed to them as the Turks controlled the Red Sea route and the Portuguese had the Horn of Africa covered. When Columbus came back and told them this new land to the west was full of novel (and valuable) goodies, Spain suddenly realized, "Who needs Asia?"

So, not so much the first to find the place but the one to make the place famous.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why is my prime meridian wobbling?

Actually, it was well known the world was round. After all, if it were flat, the horizon would move and you wouldn't see significantly further from atop a tower or upon a crow's nest.

Now, the interior of Africa and anything west of Portugal was basically Terra incognita, and that was what kept down the idea of circumnavigation: not knowing what lay in the way.

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WTF is … Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks?

Charles 9
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Re: Sci-Fi

Those depends on radio transmissions, correct, which as electromagnetic waves do not travel at a uniform speed. That's why there's some inherent inaccuracy in GPS systems (atmospheric interference). That and the low power means it has trouble penetrating solid objects. I don't localizers could overcome those physical limitations, especially if it's using time-of-flight to measure distances in a medium where the speed of electromagnetic waves can vary (GPS doesn't strictly rely on time-of-flight so is less vulnerable).

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Charles 9
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Re: What about security?

The problem is the the sensor is an originator of information. If it doesn't want the information tampered, it needs to encrypt the data from the point it enters the system. That puts the onus on the sensor to encrypt before transmitting. There's just one issue. Good encryption is resource- and power-intensive. It's a physical limitation; otherwise the encryption is too easy to break. So you end up with the issue of having to encrypt in a resource-constrained environment.

The best bet right now looks like TEA-based algorithms. They're designed for their simplicity, but they've been shown to have chinks.

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Charles 9
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What about security?

Security is one thing that really needs to be baked in to get it right, since it's more of a way of thinking than a way of doing.

Sensor swapping and sensor spoofing came to mind when I looked at this new sensor network. There would need to be a way for the sensor to positively identify itself, such as with an asymmetric key. But encryption takes time, resources, and (most critically) power. And now we run into some of the tradeoffs systems like POS terminals faced. Although in their case, it wasn't electical power limitations but CPU power limitations mostly.

In other words, the next problem I see for them is making the network secure while STILL low-powered.

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Thought the PC market couldn't get any worse? HAH! Think again

Charles 9
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Re: Lack of insight is depcressing? Wise crowds?

Nah, touch is here to stay because of one neat thing: no additional accessories required to use. Stylii get lost, and mice and the like need batteries. That's why the trend has been and stuck with just your finger (and if you don't have fingers or the like, you can't grip the device in the first place, rendering the device useless for you anyway). If something better could be devised since the iPhone, we'd have probably seen it by now, but not even the Galaxy Note is making a difference.

What's going to happen is that apps will dispense with the need for precision. There are few applications out there that require pixel-perfect precision. Most that do probably need other things (like raw compute power) that will make them more suitable for true PCs. If a little more precision is needed, there are ways to accommodate like pinch-to-zoom and borders you an adjust after the fact.

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US court: Dell can't hound debtor with robocalls to her mobile

Charles 9
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The primary issue Dell fell afoul of is that robocalls and cell phones didn't mix when the Act was made and still don't mix so well today because some people still pay for their airtime—calling AND receiving, so robocalls eat into their allowance. It just means Dell will have to assign an actual person to make the calls. Also doesn't prevent them from using a dialing machine to do the dialing and turn it over to the person when it's picked up, but given mobile phone tech today, such an attempt will likely be blocked.

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Russian spyboss brands Tor a crook's paradise, demands a total ban

Charles 9
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I'm surprised no government has taken the step of banning ALL encryption outside of state use. And then only vetting the ones for state use such that they're always with a random overseer.

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Oh noes! New 'CRISIS DISASTER' at Fukushima! Oh wait, it's nothing. Again

Charles 9
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Re: Stand near this puddle for 50 hours, die.

Not that hard, given a comatose human can drown if he ends up face-down in just TWO inches of water (enough to cover the mouth and nose, and if you're comatose, even the gag reflex may be down).

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Charles 9
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Re: Re. fracking

Have you looking into how thoroughly Gen IV reactors use their fuel?

Beam solar from space planetside? Disaster waiting to happen. Beam gets redirected and you've got an orbital beam of mass destruction on your hands. Not to mention, who's going to OWN the blasted thing? You're not going to get the nations of the world to cooperate on this one: energy means power means leverage in the world conflict (and many countries could care less about not surviving to the next day—they're ALREADY under existential threat for other reasons).

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Charles 9
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Re: There will be many, many radiation deaths

Not to mention the potential problems when tailings dams burst. Ask Stava, Italy, Buffalo Creek, West Virginia, and Aberfan, Wales.

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Charles 9
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Re: Nuclear power will be a terrible loss

How about a LFTR? Molten-salt reactor and uses Thorium.

If you're willing to stick with uranium there's work being done on failsafe reactors: even naturally-self-regulating ones (recall one based on uranium hydride being worked on—there are also the TRIGA research reactors: so safe they don't even need shielding).

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Battery-free e-ink screen grabs screenshots from smartphones

Charles 9
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I could see a potential use for this in retail. I know some stores that rely on electronic price displays on their shelves. Right now, they employ LCD numeric displays and button batteries, but a changeover to a programmable e-Ink display could simplify things, increase versatility (now you can change the description as well as the price) and reduce maintenance costs (no more button batteries).

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The secure mail dilemma: If it's useable, it's probably insecure

Charles 9
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Re: What About Deep Packet Inspection?

"What is to stop them (you know, THEM) from coercing all ISPs and backbone providers into letting them monitor the packets going through every single router, in particular the ones at the edge of the Internet?"

How about some of the IPs belonging to countries antagonistic to the west but lack the resources to crack the stuff themselves? They'll tweak the US just because they're the US, and once they lose track of the chain, it's hard to pick it up again in the noise, especially if the endpoint is outside their control. Another possibility is something like a dead-drop where the information is posted to some random location and the message of its location conveyed by some other means. There's more to the darknet than just TOR. Freenet may be too conspicuous due to its traffic usage, but perhaps a chan board or a stego'd image elsewhere.

"With the massive precautionary data collection, the authorities are taking the easy way out, to be sure, and it is being abused. So can be just back up the Patriot Act and its ilk a bit and go back to the days of having real judges issue real warrants?"

No, they won't be cause they're afraid the terrorists have subverted the judges or have placed moles within, such that the very ACT of obtaining the warrant tips them off and makes them scatter and hide or switch to an alternate line of communication they haven't traced. Then the warrant's meaningless because there's nothing to seize and no one to arrest anymore. IOW, the government has the EXACT SAME problem on THEIR end: keeping their raids secret until they actually go down, as any leak can give the game away.

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Charles 9
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Re: Where's the 'app'

TRUST.

There's your answer.

When the Internet and all its fledgling protocols were first implemented, all you had were a bunch of university boffins talking to each other. In other words, it was pretty much a closed community of people who knew each other already.

That's why Telnet was unencrypted. As was Usenet. As are POP and SMTP.

It's just that in the intervening years, no one has been able to implement a ubiquitous (this is the hard part) e-mail system that is secure from end to end. As noted before, encrypting the contents means bupkis if plods can just read the metadata and the fact you logged into your ISP's SMTP server and sent a message (and the metadata MUST be in the clear for the system to be able to route it). On the other hand, a protocol without the metadata suffers from inefficiencies and increased spam potential (how can you trace a spammer without source information, yet that same source information can be used by the plods).

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Charles 9
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Re: Sounds like you have a hammer

"built-in is always better that bolt-on"

There's a big problem with a built-in, though. What if the built-in BREAKS? Like a digital wristwatch whose reading light goes out. Now you can only see it in daytime unless you use an external light. At least with a bolt-on you can always bolt OFF if it breaks and bolt something else on.

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Charles 9
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Re: Thunderbird+Enigmail?

The problem is that they still know it comes from you. They suspect you and bring you in. Bring in the rubber hoses or (in Britain's case) the threat of a mandatory two-year sentence, not to mention the black mark on your record.

Sounds almost like a Catch-22. How can you prove to Bob you're Alice while at the same time not allowing Gene or Mallory to know that? And Alice has no way to meet Bob personally?

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Firefox takes top marks in browser stability tests

Charles 9
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Re: "doesn't spy on you for the NSA or GCHQ"

Oh? How about snagging your traffic OUTSIDE any encryption chain? The browser must display the results so would be the weakest link.

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Microsoft warns of post-April zero day hack bonanza on Windows XP

Charles 9
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Re: Microsoft arithmetic?

Then what happens when you find an essential piece of software is Windows-ONLY? And they exist A LOT in both the gaming and business world. Sometimes (like a companion to some hardware), not even VMing a Windows session helps much.

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Charles 9
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Re: MS is getting desperate on Windows 8x

"Yabut - you'll be non-compliant with the terms of an OEM license if you install that software on anything other than a brand new machine."

Yabut - Can they tell the difference between an upgraded prebuilt and a homebuilt? How much of a computer must be upgraded with new parts before it can be declared a new computer? And so on...

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Charles 9
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Re: Left hand, meet right hand @shawnfromnh

Until they try to install TurboTax or a game. There is still ubiquitous Windows-only software out there with few viable alternatives in Linux (and they may be leery about using Web tax services). It's like the song goes, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." It's only AFTER the jump that you pine for stuff you can't get anymore.

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Bitcoin blitzkreig as Germans prepare to tax virtual currency

Charles 9
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Re: Since they are going to be trying to tax mostly drug income...

"I challenge you to find a drug dealer that will accept virtual currency."

I can name two: The Silk Road and Atlantis, both TOR Onion sites. Both rely on Bitcoin and the related Litecoin as the medium of exchange.

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Google goes dark for 2 minutes, kills 40% of world's net traffic

Charles 9
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Re: Even simpler ..

Whatever happened to "kick the bastard out, promote his underling, and demand he either fix the problem tootsweet or join his ex-boss"?

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Charles 9
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Reminds me of a cartoonish jigsaw puzzle that's an old fave of mine. It's called "Computers: The Inside Story" and featured a minicomputer (bear with me—the puzzle IINM dates back some 30 years or so). Most of the joke was all the funny things that went on "inside" the minicomputer, but up top was the computer's responses to an unstated question. It isn't long before you realize the query was, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

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SQUEEEEE! Microsoft goes retro with pay-by-squawk NFC tech

Charles 9
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IINM, the headset jack on most phones are standardized as well (that's why things like the Square reader work). If you use an acoustic interface in some way, perhaps it would be prudent to add a short headset cord to link the POS to the phone for a short time. This would silence the noise and provide a more secure connection between them for the transaction. If the cord's lost or otherwise suspect, you can still transmit the stuff in the open, but it would provide an alternative.

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AREA 51 - THE TRUTH by the CIA: Official dossier blows lid off US secrets

Charles 9
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Re: @Nigel 11 - Area 667

"The neighbour of the beast ?"

Thought that was 665, as used in Max Payne.

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Apple returns to courtroom once again to contest ebook shafting

Charles 9
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Re: WTF?

"nd anyway bargain bin books are not really sold at a loss in any meaningful sense. If bargain bins lost money, there wouldn't be any bargain bins; retailers aren't that stupid."

No, bargain bins exist because the products in the bins can't be returned to the supplier. Either the sales agreement is one-way-only (quite possible in an "assume all liability" agreement) or otherwise restricts returns (perishable goods, for example), or the company who provided the goods no longer exists (a supplier liquidation, similar to what happened in the North American console crash of 1983).

Either way, the bargain bin exists as the "last chance" to get SOME return on the initial investment before the product is either fire-saled to a closeout seller or considered a complete write-off and either disposed or donated.

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Charles 9
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Re: Point missed?

Apple could've argued that Amazon was pricing them out of the market, PREVENTING them from entering the market. Being blocked (contractually or financially) from a market can be considered a harm, giving Apple the legal standing to sue.

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Charles 9
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Re: Point missed?

So why not just take Amazon to court for dumping? That's what the judge was pointing out to Apple.

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Charles 9
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Re: You didn't listen to what the judge said.

Besides, it wasn't the agency pricing model that caught Apple's hand in the cookie jar. It was (and note it wasn't mentioned in the article) the "most favoured nation" clauses in ALL of Apple's publisher contracts. In return for Apple posting the stuff for sale in its iTunes store, the publishers agreed they would NEVER let their stuff sell their stuff for less than Apple's price (at retail), allowing them to force Amazon to raise their prices lest the publishers get nailed for Breach of Contract.

It was the judge who basically pointed out (pretty explicitly), "You can't use price fixing to fix a dumping problem."

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Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop – the subsonic tube of tomorrow

Charles 9
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Re: Recharge stations

Would be a useful way to employ excess power if they achieve double breakeven, but I still question those calculations: particularly for nighttime and inclement-weather operations. And yes, there are times when weather fronts can stretch from border to border. Plus there is the possibility of the precipitation being damaging hail or (although scant in this particular route) light-blocking snow. Can the system be built rugged enough to withstand severe weather like a lightning strike, the occasional Pacific hurricane, or a tornado?

IOW, I have an issue with the estimates. I'd be more confident if they can vouch for their estimates being CONSERVATIVE...but this is marketing right now, not engineering. In marketing, conservative doesn't tend to sell.

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Charles 9
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Re: This might fail

Each car will house an air compressor. It's multi-purpose: draw away incoming air to reduce forward air friction, produce an air cushion to prevent contact with the tube wall, and propel out the back for additional thrust. I imagine some of the pneumatics could be used to cycle the air in and out of the car.

As for cleaning the air within the tubes, since the system must maintain a partial vacuum in any event, there will probably be pressure stations along the line that would maintain the partial vacuum. Part of its function could be to keep refreshing the air like they do in road and rail tunnels today.

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Charles 9
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But wasn't that also some 20 years ago when the dollar wasn't as inflated? If that $15B price you give in dollars THEN or dollars NOW? Because by my estimate if it's THEN, the cost in dollars NOW would be closer to $24B.

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Charles 9
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Re: Pragmatic, sensible and workarounds exist for the problems

It's not necessarily the immediate risk during an earthquake, but rather what might happen to the Hyperloop over time. As you say, the dampers need to have the range to accommodate the motion, but what if the motion is two inches in a year? The concrete pylons will move with the earth, placing stress on the steel tube.

How about a floating mount, with enough room to slide for some distance before you had to intervene? IOW, instead of it being bolted to the pylon, it simply rests on something like a tray on top.

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Charles 9
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Re: A pipeline?

It's not as conspiratorial as you think. The reason the Concorde wasn't really allowed over land (and note: Europe didn't want the Concorde flying over land EITHER...for the same reasons) was because of its sonic boom. Anyone living near a military jet base will know the problem, and there can be many complaints about not just loud jet noise but also sonic booms shaking houses and so on. Concorde's sonic boom was particularly bad because it was designed for efficiency: not noise mitigation.

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Charles 9
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It wouldn't be two separate tubes but one LOOPED tube. Thus why it's called a HyperLOOP. It may look like two tubes to you, but a Mobius strip looks like it has two sides yet it doesn't.

Protecting the pylons? Known science. After that bridge collapse in Tampa (which involved impact by a SHIP), people are well aware of the need of buffer zones and better impact-deflecting column designs (think a circular column with a parabolic base—anything running into it should be deflected away). If they can keep SHIPS from colliding with support columns, a truck shouldn't be that challenging.

As for businesses along the way, they may not get a say. The loop's being built on already-allocated right of way: along the I-5 corridor for the most part, switching to I-80 for the Bay Bridge run. All that land's ALREADY owned by the state, so two words: they lose.

As for flying cars, reliability keeps them from being practical (Breakdown in midair? *shudder*). Teleportation? I think the Uncertainty Principle gets in the way. And status quo is unacceptable (observe the typical LA rush hour). So you're basically in gold rush territory: boom or bust, with nothing in between left for you.

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Charles 9
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Re: Branching

I've seen some sci-fi stories take that approach with tube trains, and you're right about enclosing the junction in the same partial vacuum to eliminate airlocks. But that still doesn't address the potential for striking the "crotch" (more properly, the gore point) of the junction. You're still talking mechanics so the junction could get stuck in the middle (like a rail point only set halfway). Or bad timing could result in the car entering the junction in mid-transition. Either way, the results would not be pretty and there's little you could do to mitigate such a risk, especially since the speeds involved shrink the margin of error.

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Charles 9
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Re: Try as they might, they will not keep those tunnels free of low-pressure hardened rats

Those steel tubes are pretty thick. And while rats have been known to chew through some pretty tough things, there are limits. Unless you can site an instance where a chewing rat caused something an oil pipe leak (similar-strength pipe)?

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Who's who: 12th Doctor has been chosen, will meet you on Sunday night

Charles 9
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Re: Call me old fashioned...

Except several issues.

First, as the Doctor is the LEAD in this show, whoever it is will generally get the most screen time. Anyone stalking the studio area will use that as a basis. Also because of this, you can't mix up shills or the like without paying them, and since they can't leave unless the real one does, that's gonna add up. Besides, savvier snoops might find ways to tell which one is real.

Finally, there are those who may take the palm-greasing route and bribe someone in the production staff who HAS to know which is the real one as part of their job.

Put it this way, it's like hacking. If you're out there, you're going to be a target for SOMEONE with enough motivation, and given enough people, SOMEONE'S going to be motivated enough, and the Whoniverse has enough fans to provide the motivation. The BBC was up against a determined and resourceful adversary with global motivation. Against such an enemy, NO secret was safe for long, so it was best to do things on THEIR terms.

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Boffins harvest TV, mobile signals for BATTERY-FREE comms

Charles 9
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Re: Also-

Radio probably won't be leaving anytime soon. As long as we need something to distract ourselves during our drives, radios will always find a use. As for television, they're compacting but not going away anytime soon. The BBC still has its mandate, and as long as the commercial networks still attract viewers and ad revenues, they can keep on kicking.

There are also, IIRC, various utility radio frequencies that remain in use for both military and civilian applications. For example, there is WWV in Colorado, USA: the official channels of the NIST. They transmit constant time signals at several frequencies (generally low ones so as to cover the entire continental US plus parts of Canada and Mexico) that can be picked up (increasingly by some consumer clocks) for calibrating internal time.

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Google patents swish, swosh, swoosh pattern unlock app swipe

Charles 9
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Re: Awesome

A pattern might be readable from the grease smears on the surface, depending on when the phone is inspected after being unlocked.

As for the password/PIN, again, depending on when it's picked up, examining finger smudges on the glass might give clues to which are the digits in use (including repeats—they'd probably show signs of extra or double smudging). If you can at least identify the digits in use if not the order, you can reduce your guesswork from 10,000-1,000,000 to 24-720.

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Give up your privacy so Big Data can FIX GOVERNMENT

Charles 9
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The original post appears to have disappeared, but I believe he meant the latter two of trust, data, and analytics.

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Charles 9
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Re: Couldn't this be just done by the schools?

Not necessarily. They only know what happens in school. Unless the police keep the schools informed all the time when children get in trouble with the law or they're called in because of a case of spousal or child abuse. Do they?

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Charles 9
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Re: Targeted Assistance

You HAVE to keep out all and sundry because the include the LEECHES. They'd suck the programs dry and essentially kill them.

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Charles 9
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Re: Secrecy is the keystone to all tyranny

"Also, stealth bomber technology was used during the cold war. The fighter tech wasn't brought in until the very end."

The F-117 (a stealth fighter) was innovated BEFORE the B-2 (a stealth bomber).

As for bombing Japan, recall that the Japanese attitude was to fight to the last and to defend the homeland with your lives. That attitude basically meant ALL residents were combatants. The big concern was preventing an invasion of the home islands would would've been bloody on both sides (they would make the casualty figures of Okinawa—which were steep despite its small size—pale in comparison). Plus there was the industry in those cities. People in the manufacturing industries were considered in the war industry: making them fair game. In addition, the secrecy was due to the Nazis ALSO working on an A-Bomb. They didn't want the Nazis stealing secrets OR accelerating their timetable in reply.

And the thing with secrecy is that the only way to keep a secret is with MORE secrets. So how do you draw the line without "spilling the beans", so to speak.

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Silent Circle shutters email service

Charles 9
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Re: PGP-encrypted usenet posts (or similar)

"The time needed to brute force PGP keys is prohibitive"

Using a normal computer, yes, but a quantum computer can factor in reasonable time with Shor's algorithm. And since a powerful quantum computer would be a game breaker, the government could already have a sufficiently powerful machine available under a black (as in existence denied) project.

Elliptical encryption can be converted to a factoring problem, meaning it's subject to Shor's algorithm, too. The trend these days is lattice encryption; it's one form of math that can't be converted to a form Shor's algorithm can handle.

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Charles 9
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Re: Never trust in centralized services

But then you run into efficiency problems which means its effective communications rate is limited. Furthermore, there's still the matter of attacking the system itself (IOW, switch from attacking the endpoints to attacking the infrastructure). That's how Japanese authorities fight some of the darknets that appear over there.

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Charles 9
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Devil

Re: Why don't they just go abroad?

"Nothing is impossible."

Actually, Alan Turing proved some things ARE impossible, such as creating a program that can learn if another program can halt. His research into the Halting Problem demonstrated a paradox if you tried. Several other "no solution" proofs (most by contradiction) have emerged as well.

The problem here is that all roads lead to Hell essentially. Not only that, you're in Hell and so are most of your clients. How do you avoid Hell in such a situation?

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Chrome, Firefox blab your passwords in a just few clicks: Shrug, wary or kill?

Charles 9
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Re: That's not the issue.

They tend to now since more sites switch the login screen to https, meaning a stored password won't be useful in your scenario because more sites will be already in secure mode.

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Charles 9
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Re: Missed Option

Do you know the hoops some people have to jump just to get a password reset without the original password? Plus what if the account's tied to an e-mail address that no longer exists (and you didn't realize that until too late)? The thing is that password reset can potentially be abused, so they make the process necessarily hard.

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