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* Posts by Charles 9

3591 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Rules, shmules: Fliers leaving devices switched on in droves

Charles 9
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Re: Engineering tolerances?

News Flash: This ACTUALLY HAPPENED. It's still listed as the most tragic airliner accident on record: the Tenerife disaster on the Canary Islands.

- Airport diversions due to terrorist attack, CHECK (Bombing at Las Palmas)

- Poor weather conditions, CHECK (Zero-V fog)

- Tricky landing conditions, CHECK (Airport is over 600m up and way too small)

- Poor English at the control tower, CHECK (ATCs not used to speaking English)

And note this occurred in 1977, BEFORE cell phones were the norm. As others have said, many planes have long duty cycles and therefore may not be well-hardened against internal radio transmissions. And note that frequency is not always at play--that's why even a modern GSM cell phone can still cause clicks when next to a radio, even though neither operate in the other's frequency ranges. I've PERSONALLY heard police radios (which operate around 800MHz) coming out of TV speakers which should have no tuning equipment to speak of. For the FCC, it's a case of "better safe than sorry".

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'Liberator': Proof that you CAN'T make a working gun in a 3D printer

Charles 9
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Re: why bother

But most of those zip guns are made of metal pipes and whatnot. The big row is this advances the idea of making a NONMETALLIC zip gun. It's not there YET, but having something like this spurs the imagination. There's really very little metal in it; what's to say someone can't put this together with a strong enough nonmetallic firing pin and perhaps a ceramic bullet in perhaps a carbon fiber casing or the like. Suddenly you have a ZERO-metal firearm; improve the design a little more or use a printer that can use stronger plastics and you'll have yourself a nonmetallic derringer good at a short but practical range (say a few meters--too far for a knife). And since many places including many airports are still limited to metal detectors...

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Charles 9
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Re: 3D Printers: The Jeffy Boot-Strap Test

As I pointed out in another reply, people are actually researching this aspect. Perhaps once 3D printers can reliably do metal, then they can pass the Jeffy Boot-Strap Test.

Point is, they really ARE working on it.

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Charles 9
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Re: Your better off printing a sling shot.

I think El Reg mentioned a research project into exactly that, so you may be surprised.

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Charles 9
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Re: Ever hear of a zip gun?

Now try making it completely nonmetallic yet still lethal. Then metal detectors become useless.

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Charles 9
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Except such a law would never get past the southern and western states who still adhere to their folklore about mountain men, rugged survivalism, and the Wild West. To them (many of whom seceded from the union once already), Washington is the real enemy, not the terrorists. To them, the phrase "from my cold, dead fingers" has real meaning.

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Charles 9
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And BTW, what kind of political leader would even THINK of carpet-bombing, to say nothing of nuking, their own population? My answer is one that would soon be swamped in his own capital, making the bombing option useless unless that leader's not too concerned about his/her future.

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Charles 9
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The whole balleyhoo isn't that the gun can be printed at home but that the gun is made of a minimal amount of metal. Guns on airplanes have always been the stuff of nightmares; it's the image that NOWHERE is safe. Sure, everyone points to the nail and the bullets, but then the question becomes, "What if they used black powder, a ceramic bullet, a carbon fiber casing, and a diamond firing pin?" Suddenly, you have a completely nonmetallic firearm. How's the airport going to be able to check that when it's on someone's person?

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Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

Charles 9
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They're already working on it (see xda-developers).

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Charles 9
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I think I'll wait a bit for some more custom ROMs to appear. Since I got mine free and clear, I just need to unlock it, then root it (already a technique out for it). Many of the custom ROMs prefer the Trebuchet home screen, and I'm rather fond of its simplicity.

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Charles 9
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Re: No Exynos in the US

All the US models are different. The Stock model can't do LTE in the US (none of them do Bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, or 20). Each US model supports that carrier's LTE bands (T-Mobile USA and AT&T use 4 and 17, Sprint uses 25). No skin off my nose; the other bands my phone supports are useable where I go abroad as well.

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Charles 9
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Re: Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

AFAIK, not in America. No biggie in this case thanks to support for 64GB SDXC Micro cards and USB On-the-Go. I'd be more inclined to use USB OTG if they provide an OTG cable that provides BOTH the USB host socket AND power (that's my one beef with USB OTG--you typically can't both charge the phone and run On the Go at the same time).

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UK.gov's love affair with ID cards: Curse or farce?

Charles 9
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Let's take the argument to the extreme. How does one prove an identity without said identity being traceable? I suspect identity is INHERENTLY traceable, so there's no in-between available. Next question is: is being tracked worth the price? Let's take it to the extreme: what if privacy becomes an actual existential threat to some large area? How would you respond to this? Do you sacrifice your privacy to defeat it or let the threat come to pass and likely die as a result?

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Unlocking Technology Act plans to let freedom ring for devices

Charles 9
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Re: Hmm

Why not right now? Sue Microsoft on the grounds that their price incentives for Windows exclusivity is anti-competitive. Doesn't existing law already cover for anti-competitive business practices?

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Obama orders gov data must be 'open and machine-readable'

Charles 9
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Re: Executive orders are policy of all executive branch agencies

The thing is, federal law already in place states that the products of the US government (with a few exceptions) are supposed to be in the public domain. Seems this Executive Order is simply applying this law and specifying how this publicly-available information should be distributed.

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HTC profits PLUNGE 98%: Pins hopes on HTC One, 'Facebook mobe'

Charles 9
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Re: 2 years on...

I have the Desire Z myself, which is approaching three years old and is showing signs of getting clunky as the app demands grow. Much as I like it, I keep getting the impression it's time to move on. I'm currently favoring Samsung's Galaxy S IV, mostly because, unlike the HTC One (Sorry) I can install an SD card and remove the battery.

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Charles 9
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I have to wonder if a whole bunch of students were to display a show of solidarity and repeat the experiment en masse, creating a unique form of student strike. I don't know about you, but I don't think any school board will be very inclined to expel a sizable chunk of any school's population.

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Science of the lambs: Boffins grow GLOW-IN-THE-DARK sheep

Charles 9
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Re: NOT glow in the dark - you need UV. NOT DARK.

So IOW, they're FLUORescent not PHOSPHORescent.

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New Google Play terms ban non-store app updates

Charles 9
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Re: Binary executables only

IIRC that counts as installing an app, which means Android intervenes and will either block it as third-party or (if you enable the option) prompt you accordingly. The key aspect is making the app accessible to Android, which normally requires going through the Installer or Android won't see it (theoretically, if you root your device and let a program have SuperUper permission, they could do it outside the Installer framework, but apart from backup programs I don't recall such a program existing).

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CURSE you, EINSTEIN! Humanity still chained in relativistic PRISON

Charles 9
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Re: Stupid question

Imagine if you will the venerable Saturn V rocket on the verge of takeoff. The rockets at the bottom fire and start pushing up the bottom of the rocket. However, the top of the rocket does not react momentarily. For that instant, the rocket compresses and propagates up the height of the rocket until the top start moving.

A similar thing can be observed with the humble Slinky. There is an El Reg article about a Slinky experiment that discusses the phenomenon at length.

Basically put, nothing in the universe is perfectly rigid. Apply a force at one end of the rod and, instead of the whole rod moving at once, the rod will compress at that end, and a compression wave will run down the length of the rod at subuminar speed. The other end won't react immediately because of this.

Incidentally, this compression phenomenon exists regardless of friction, as it can also occur in space where friction is as close to zero as we can get it.

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White House backs US web sales tax - eBay hits panic alarm

Charles 9
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Re: Nightmare.

"In all seriousnous, I don't see the calculations as insurmountable. And from the sound of it some businesses should be doing this anyway for non-internet sales. Awkward yes, and the complexity even if it was only a state level must be... well quite complex - I've forgotten how to do combinations and factorials. But should be possible to code a cheapish app for the job, the trick would be getting the underlying tax rates and locations without paying for access to other people's databases."

The problem is that there are further complications. Consider tax exemptions. For example, Virginia does not tax medicines, but the definition of medicine isn't entirely clear. A bottle of aspirin is generally a yes while an energy shot (also in the medicine aisle) is generally a no, but what about a non-pharmaceutical pain reliever? Then you have tax holidays, which can shift from year to year and may not apply from one year to the next, and they usually have item qualifications of their own.

So how can one make a concrete set of rules for taxation when it's not even clear what is subject to taxation? And as for the feds, there's a strong push against a federal sales/consumption tax of any sort (they considered it a century ago and rejected it--too much subversion potential)--a VAT would be considered a consumption tax, which most people are against.

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Charles 9
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Except the federal government isn't interested in a unified sales or consumption tax. They talked about a century ago and determined it's too prone to corruption and subversion. Some of the problems with sales taxes involve preventing black markets appearing that don't keep records. Value-Added Taxing tends to prevent this because the taxing occurs at wholesale levels rather than at retail but it has its own foibles.

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Charles 9
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I would think your multiple-company would be construed as subsidiaries and they would go after the company behind them all. OR, if one folds and another rises, they could say the new company assumes the tax liabilities of the old (a common condition of acquiring a going concern), so they accumulate regardless.

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Charles 9
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Re: God I hate politicians...

The balance between sales and income taxes generally depends on the type of business that is predominant in a state.

For examples, states with high levels of tourism or other "imported" customers (think Florida, Tenessee, and Nevada--both have no income tax but high sales tax) tend to favor sales taxes and the like over income taxes because they're better at capturing money from the out-of-state tourists who don't work there (and therefore don't make income they can tax).

OTOH, states with a high concentration of business (like Delaware) will tend to favor income taxes over sales taxes. Low or no sales taxes (Delaware has no sales tax) lower the cost of living and attract people to work in their state, where they make the income they can then tax; it works for them because brick-and-mortar businesses and hubs are more difficult to relocate.

New York is a very interesting case. It's one of the few places that has BOTH tourism and big business, so it has some of the highest sales AND income taxes in the country (not to mention some of the most coveted land in the country in Manhattan--high demand and low supply spikes prices). California (similar) comes in second.

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Charles 9
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Re: God I hate politicians...@Charles 9

@FutureShock999

We've tried that system before in the US. We called ours Service Merchandise. They had showrooms and everything, but ALL orders went by their terminals which they affectionately called "Silent Sam". You then went to the pickup counters to get your products. It went under in the late 90's, a victim of the dot-com boom and the big-boxes.

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Charles 9
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Re: Sales Tax

But that gives an edge to states like Oregon, Montana, Delaware, and New Hampshire (maybe not Alaska--too far away). These states have NO sales tax (they get their revenues other ways).

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Charles 9
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Re: @Kevin 6..

"If we want to make everything a level field maybe they should also make all brick & mortar shops box everything, charge you shipping, and make you wait a few days before you can have your item."

They already do. It's called a SPECIAL ORDER.

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Charles 9
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Re: God I hate politicians...

I believe that is THE EXACT IDEA. They want people to shop more on Main Street than e-Street: support LOCAL businesses instead.

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Guess who PC-slaying tablets are killing next? Keyboard biz Logitech

Charles 9
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Re: Don't mention Squeezebox or Ultimate Ears

I have a K400 myself, and I move it around from place to place. It works well for PCs and for my Samsung Smart TV. When it comes to the Pi, though, it's hit or miss. I suspect this is more to do with power constraints. I'll give it a try against a self-powered hub and see if it works better. AFAICT, any problems with the device stem more from compatibility issues than the device itself.

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Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow

Charles 9
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Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

Point taken, but at the same time using the CPU as a gatekeeper helps to block potential memory exploits. FireWire has better throughput because of Direct Memory Access, but it also opens the door to potential memory exploits (and since FireWare was two-way you had to allow two-way access to the memory). Looks like a hard one to solve: place a gatekeeper and you lose the speed and efficiency advantages; don't and you risk memory exploits.

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Charles 9
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I suspect voltage incompatibilities play into this. A good number of PoE setups use splitters at the device end in any event. Either device could employ PoE with help from a splitter.

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Charles 9
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"There are also a LOT of very cheap Android stick / boxes powered by the likes of the Allwinner A10, A20, A31. Since XBMC is on Android now, there is a chance that these could be viable platforms for people who want to play media. What would be lacking is the community support."

I've given Android XBMC a try. Last I checked, its graphics support needs work. It was chugging on my Galaxy Tab 7.0+ (no slouch--1.2GHz dual-core Exynos and Mali 400MP GPU).

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Charles 9
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Re: Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

If the Pi is anything to go by, it's probably just a bit too big (too wide, mainly--an Altoid tin by my reckoning measures only about 2" even).

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Peak Apple: First 'profit slip' in a decade - and, boy, it's gonna be BIG

Charles 9
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That's how the article and myself put it. Apple suffered a rare thing for it: it "misfired," as I put it. It's GOING to have a setback as a result, no doubt. Now the big question is if Apple can recover from the setback. The next iPhone needs to be really, REALLY good to get a full rebound. Otherwise, with Samsung on the verge of releasing the Galaxy SIV with tons of goodies (But beware of the steep price tag!), it's more likely to be a slog.

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Securing the Internet of Things - or how light bulbs can spy on you

Charles 9
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Re: ahem

I'm wondering if he's referring to a WhisperNet as used by the classic Kindle line. It was tolerated because they didn't use a whole lot of data, so Amazon footed the bill. Thing is, cell coverage is not universal and more limited in indoor settings, plus so many devices may leave cell providers scratching their heads.

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Google tells Microsoft IE shops: We can help you with those 'legacy apps'

Charles 9
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Uh, what about running the legacy browser from a VC which can then be given additional hardening from the hypervisor level? Is something preventing this like cost considerations and/or resource constraints?

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Eerie satnav boffinry claims it can predict THE FUTURE

Charles 9
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Re: Yet another one of those systems

People must be really dead-set about their cars if they insist on driving there instead of parking outside, opting to avoid town centers ALTOGETHER. I mean, it's understandable if you're going to a big-box with intent to buy a lot (the big concern is getting everything home), but I don't think that's the norm for places like this.

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Charles 9
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Re: So in your worldview, anyone with a nice car is an arse

"I drive a Ford Focus, and it's an ok car, not good though. The design is way to "SUV" like. The hight to the window is at least 5 cm too high. A way for car makers to make you feel more secure, the less you see of the road close to you the more secure you feel, you don't get the feeling of what speed you actually drive. The height to the roof is 5-10 cm too high."

You've just drawn my attention to that car. See, my problem is the opposite. I'm TOO TALL, so unless I'm in a bigger vehicle like an SUV, my head is constantly against the ceiling, and I prefer driving upright because that raises my attention (leaning back tends to lull me).

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Charles 9
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I don't know. I don't think any vehicle with two wheels would have much hope against a vehicle with EIGHTEEN wheels.

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Charles 9
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Re: Flaw in theory...

"- There's no such thing as a safe electric shock that's large enough to be felt, especially STRAIGHT ACROSS YOUR HEART, from hand to hand. Hell hath no fury like the deluge of lawsuits sparked by (relatives of) people with and without pacemakers who would die / have a heart episode caused by one of the shocks..."

Actually, there are scientific measurements of the effects of electric current on people. It takes about 1mA of current for us to even sense its presence (the point where we start to feel the tingle). As long as the current stays below 5mA, you can feel the shock and it can hurt, but little would come of it. There are actually toys that deliver these levels of shock. Start to climb a bit higher (say, to the 10-20mA range), and you get to tazer levels. They hurt, and they'll cause you to spasm, but since the shock is delivered to the exterior muscles, the heart generally gets bypassed (the current will follow the outer skeletal muscles instead). It's only when you climb above 30mA that you start getting into serious life-threatening shocks.

As for pacemakers, the outer cases are usually metal and act as a shield, so a shock will tend to wrap around it (it's designed this way to be able to take the shock from a defibrillator).

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Charles 9
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Re: Flaw in theory...

And how would the current be delivered, given the average car seat is nonmetallic, as are the layers of clothing around said privates? I don't think anyone would be interested in a car seat with taser prongs built into it...unless you were of the kinky type that actually got off on that kind of stuff (another potential problem).

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Charles 9
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Re: Data mining

1. The car does know who you are, not only by way of things like transponder keys but also by the GPS record of your driving (and the car MUST have GPS to perform navigation), which other boffins have shown to be as distinctive as fingerprints given enough data.

2. The car and the phone talk to each other. That's how its pedestrian guidance works, via an app.

3. ANYTHING for an edge in a competitive neighborhood or industry. Just watch.

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Charles 9
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Re: 10 seconds???

The problem with the two second rule is that's more than a vehicle length. What inevitably happens is that someone else slips into the gap, forcing you to establish a NEW two-second gap...which in turn gets filled by another car, and so on.

I honestly think that's the main reason people don't obey the two-second rule--they're afraid of other cars cutting in.

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US House of Representatives passes CISPA by 288-127

Charles 9
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At least the vote isn't veto-proof.

The vote as taken is two shy of the 2/3 majority needed to enact CISPA over a presidential veto. Let's see where the Senate goes on this first. If the Senate does not pass CISPA as written by the House, the conference committee will kick in which will forge a compromise bill that will require a revote.

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Smart metering will disrupt weather forecasts, warns Met Office

Charles 9
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Re: No, no, no! 'Smart Meter' are not, they are RFI bombs!

Umm, do you faraday cage your residence as well, given the ubiquity of radio transmissions that, by your terms, are RFI pollution as well? Even if you don't employ them, they're still there. Then there are the transmission lines, which are also known to emit EM radiation (natural byproduct of running electricity down a metal wire). Then going down to the internal wiring in your residence, which would be hard to block since they're the source of power for your internal appliances.

I mean, if we really WERE that sensitive to EMI/RFI, then we'd become a blubbering mess every time the Sun decided to belch our way.

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Logitech launches MEGA-PRICEY 15-in-1 remote

Charles 9
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Re: Really?

Thankfully, the Harmony line is very broad and has a huge range of remotes ranging from very basic ones for three devices on up. I personally own a couple of four-function ones. The one on display here is likely just their new top-end. I've also seen the Harmony Hub and gave it a pass as overkill for my needs.

My only beef is the need to register and connect to program the remote, but then again, this is what keeps their control database updated so easily (a common beef with universals as new devices come in).

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Netflix plotting move to HTML5 video - but only if DRM works

Charles 9
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Re: anti-piracy ads

"You wouldn't download a car would you?".

No, but what if I REPLICATE it instead? How do you answer that, copyright cops?

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Charles 9
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Maybe it's because I have NoScript installed, but I haven't seen a site that blocks the right button. I wonder if sites will begin trying to detect the presence of NoScript or forcing a bypass by incorporating the click-block into a block of essential-to-the-site scripts you have to allow to function.

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Charles 9
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Re: We want to BUT....

Adding a non-free program blob is considered tainting the disto, so you can't install it unless a conscious direct choice is made to install it (like the checkbox you make for the non-free codecs or the configuration option to install non-free video drivers).

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Charles 9
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Re: the one thing that we are doing right now, which is to go global.

So why not just get an overreaching global license directly from the content creators, going over the heads of the individual regional licensees, unless you're saying each licensee's contract includes an exclusivity clause?

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