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* Posts by ilmari

71 posts • joined 18 Oct 2012

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Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

ilmari

I'm not a biologist, but the article's mentikn if decoded genome seems weird. In a compsci analogy, i thought the HGP was about reading out the 1s and 0s, into one long string, in the correct order. Except DNA is ternary. I was also under the impression that we know sequences create different yproteins. So perhaps we could say it's it's the equivalent of ibstructions to write values into registers on a computer. What we don't know, is how execution flow is controlled.

So basically we have the program code in executabke form, and we know opcodes that do things like 'write value to register x', but we don't know what each register does, and execution flow, conditionals, etc, are all part of the black box manipulated through registers?

So one big reverse engineering problem, made worse by the original author having poor coding style, nk sense of structure, and winner of obfuscated c contest. Oh, and we dont know how the cpu and its peripherals work either.

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Tough Banana Pi: a Raspberry Pi for colour-blind diehards

ilmari

This board seems much the same as every other ARM based board that isnt Raspberry Pi: Much better hw for less or same price, but awful software support.

On paper, with somewhere around 8 times the compute performance, twice the ram, and vastly superior bulk IO, one would be could crazy to buy raspberry pi. However, not having to build your own operating system makes rpi win.

Raspberry Pi is in a strange position with regard to future direction. They're more or less stuck with the particular and peculiar Broadcom GPU. Powerhungry GPU designed for set top boxes, with a tiny CPU as coprocessor for displaying the tv guide.. By now there's so much effort put into modifying software to work with the nonstandard drivers and APIs, that switching to another SoC will be starting from scratch. Rpi foundation possibly only entity capable of it, if they can get their users enthusiastic about it.

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Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs

ilmari

I wonder if Elon Musk has ever played kerbal space program

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

ilmari

Re: @b166er

Buying a drilling rig to just make one hole is very silly.

As someone living in the Nordics, where groubd source heatpumpd are now withib top-3 modt popular heat source for new or newly renovated houses, i csn tell you the hole doesnt cost that much.

Roughly speaking, changing to gshp is a 15kE investment, of which roughly 5k goes to the dude that comes over and parks drilling rig in your yard and naps for 2days as the machine works away.

Oil heating running costs on the order of 3-5kE annually, electric even more.

Wood fired central heating needs something on the order of 3-5ha of forest for comfort, and 2-4 weeks of work put into it, to harvest and process the "free" fuel.

Rules of thumb for renovations or new houses: 100cm of rock wool above and below, same or atleast 60cm on walls. Forced air ventilation with heat exchanger (or even a heat pump), and underfloor heating. Underfloor heating allows system temperature to be kept at around 40C instead of 60-80C as with radiators. Lower system temperature boosts overall efficiency considerably.

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Mastercard and Visa to ERADICATE password authentication

ilmari

For me, Verified by Visa asks me for user/pass (static), and a one time password (always different, pick up new list of 200 at bank when I run out), my bank's favoured authentication scheme. Occasionally I also need to enter a code sent via sms. That feature was opt-in though.

For my friend who's with another bank, it asks for the digits displayed on some small plastic keyfob thing with the letters "RSA" on it. The digits seem to change every few minutes.

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Stop coding and clean up your UI, devs, it's World Usability Day

ilmari

Usability is different things to different people.

For the nongeek non nerd, you want a flat menu structurd, because hierarchies are confusing and scary, and the nongeek gives up, because the choices on screen are all interpreted as verbs/commands. i.e. "Why press file, i dont want to file, i want to print".

Additionally, on touchscreens, the touchscreen illiterate needs to be given buttons atleast the size of a thumbprint, because that's how they try to interface with it. Say 3x3 cm buttons. This also helps with the computer illiterate's typical eyeglass scantup, which gives them a reading distance that is further away than their arms can reach. The lack of tactile feedback makes the read first, then push button blind strategy unreliable at best. As there's typically no clear feedback whether a command has been accepted either, the user will try pressing harder and harder, or move to alternative approaches such as punching and stabbing, sometimes with implements..

Everyone who claims something is easy to use should be forced to spend a week with these users. :)

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The last PC replacement cycle is about to start turning

ilmari

Re: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

I cant wait until the day Steam games are all kn the cloud. I wouldnt have to worry about constantly upgrading the gaming rig, wouldnt have noise and heat problems in the gaming room, the gaming room could be repurposed.. And, best of all, I wouldnt need to get out of bed to play a game if it ran on, or was streamed to a phpbe, phablet or tablet device..

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Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all

ilmari

Around half the people I know of that have bought Win8 machines can't figure out the current authentication system, and thise that do manage to get past the first boot questions are shocked and surprised after the first patch-tuesday enforced boot. "Why do I need a password, this is *my* computer!". Of course they don't remember whatever random keyboard mashing they did a week/month ago to clear "strange questions about my facebook".

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Finnish PM: Apple has DESTROYED FINLAND

ilmari

Locally in Finland, Stubb has come under criticism for using twitter.

Doesn't matter if it's "aww, look at this cute kitten!", or "difficult negotiations again. please bring coffee", or "just ran marathon, excercise is good for you", mainstream media always interviews political analysts about the "statements by the prime minister" (tweets)

On one hand, "the social media pm" has brought unprecedented transparency into government.. On the other hand, people are quite confused as to why the prime minister declares to the world that the kitten "snuggles" is the cutest kitten ever...

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ilmari

I too find it hard to believe he meant it any other way than <technological progress> makes <old inflexiblecompanies and industries> die. And I don't even vote for his party.

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Something ate Google's 8.8.8.8 at about eight in Asia's evening

ilmari

Mandatory xkcd

http://xkcd.com/1361/

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SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION

ilmari

Even with ludicrous fuel tanks, the chances of being able to rendezvous or intercept a target not targeted before launch is unlikely.

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Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

ilmari

Re: Do not write off the low-cost Series 40 featurephone platform

Part of why Nokia failed, was that they did not realize quickly enough that calls are no longer the primary purpose of phones, and that call quality and battery life arent that important either.

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Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really

ilmari

1) Bundle win8 with classic shell

2) Call it Windows 9

3) Profit!

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Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week

ilmari

XP is the only named one that was not a dud, and every second windows is a dud. For that reason, using same methodology as technical stock analysts, a named version in the good slot in the sequence is asking for trouble.

Bob

Millenium Edition

XP

Vista

Threshold

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Apple iPhone 6: Looking good, slim. AW... your battery died

ilmari

Re: Crap Battery

I bet you nonzero amount of currency that the real reason is novelty wearing off, and you doing less power intensive tasks on it. Or no longer blocking antenna with hand, or your operator boositng coverage.

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ilmari

Re: Battery Life

Roughly first half of the noughties, Nokia did the opposite with the battery meter: full bars until 50%, and then vaguely linear dropoff from there to 1 bar, which was whatever threshold their engineers felt the algorithm could reliably predict there'd be enough power left for orderly shutdown.

This "show full until half" was a neat trick, in a day when users' metric was "check out my new phone, got it 5 days ago, on my first charge, and it still has 5 of 5 battery bars!"

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Apple iPhone 6 Plus: GORGEOUS FAT pixel density - but it's WASTED

ilmari

Re: Obviously

Linux fanboy checking in here

The problem with real world is that conditions are random. The problem with background apps is that they perform random crap, through the random quality network environment, and everyone has different set of crapware installed.

Real world example: At home, on my desk, where even IRDA to celltower would work, standby life without background apps would be on the order of weeks.

Out at sea on an island, with closest tower being a solar/windpowered byuoy, standby time is on the order of hours.

There's already massive power use within the fairly wide "full signal" indicated range, let alone when operating with less than perfect signal indicated...

The only purpose of the batttery life ratings is to compare with other ratings. (and hope they use same methodology across models).

As a sidenote, and as someone who doesnt use apple, I have to say I'm rather envious that iphone brightness goes as low as it goes, and that the volume can go low too. Most devices these day feel like getting stabbed in the eye at lowest brightness, and bleeding eardrums at one step above muted..

Then again, I see other people discussîng max screen brightness and volume, as if they actually want even more , to me, ludicrously high levels... Again, shows that one person's real world can be quite different from another's.

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Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around

ilmari

Re: What?

Mostly, li-ion fires can be divided into 2 causes: impurities introduced during manufacturing, and bad battery management systems.

Unfortunately, batteries seem to be poorly understood by most electrical engineers, so the amount of flawed battery management systems out there is rather huge.

Still, the 'rules' are pretty simple: Don't go below 2.80V, don't go above 4.20V. Ever. Not even for a millisecond.

Our clever cost-aware EE will then think "I've got 3 in series, so that means I need to stay between 9V and 12.6V. This is wrong, he needs to monitor all 3 cells individually. There will never be cells matched exactly enough, and stay matched throughout their service life.

So, each cell must be monitored individually. On discharging, the device must shut off when the weakest cell reaches the minimum allowable voltage, or sooner. On charging, the charging current must be reduced when the fullest cell reaches maximum permissible voltage. Preferably you have a circuit that can bleed off some charge from the fullest cells, so that all cells can be charged full.

The EE that reads the datasheet closely enough, will notice that samples if cells are put through overdischarge and overcharge testing, wherd they are taken outside of the permissible voltage range, and demonstratedly don't explode, smoke, or emit excessive heat. He will then make the assumption that the limits are more of a guideline for best cycle life, and the worst that will happen is that the battery dies a bit sooner, and the customer needs to buy a new battery or device sooner.

While it's true thay li-ion cells must withstand such tests without failure, they only need to do it once. That is, one test is performed once, and the specific cell in question is never used again.

The reason for this is that every deviation outside the safe range inflicts accumulating damage to the cell. Accumulating meaning that while a 'small' deviation from the safe range might not cause problems the first time, it could cause issues the 10th time or the 200th time it happens.

At one extreme voltage, the copper inside the cell starts dissolving. If this process reverses, you get conductive copper in random places, potentially causing short circuits, or a string of thin copper might carry current, cause heating, and ignite the cell.

At the other end, the battery evolves metallic lithiun, which is the equivalent of the petrol in your car turning into nitroglycerine. Ungood.

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ilmari

Re: Scientists...pah

Ghus is kinda similar results to similar research in LiFePo4 cells, where it was found that extremely fast charging can reduce the wear and tear on the cell.

Fascinating stuff!

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ilmari

Re: Green Prince of Darkness

High cycle life.

High power density / fast charge

High energy density

Cheap.

Pick any two features.

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Smart meters in UK homes will only save folks a lousy £26 a year

ilmari

Re: How do these thing save money?

UK could have saved a bit by not adding on requirement for energy use display.

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ilmari

Re: Irrelevant

Most people have absolutely no idea of how much energy different devices use.

Not that having a real time display will help, short higgh power use vs 24/7 low level use isnt something most people can work out in their head either.

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Good luck with Project Wing, Google. This drone moonshot is NEVER going to happen

ilmari

Re: Basic intrusion

So you prefer the current delivery sustem where large trucjks driving around aimlessly back into your garden for an 11-point turn when they realize they were going the wrong way?

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Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit

ilmari

Win8 remains, as the update isn't automatic. It's hidden in the store, and kinda buggy. 8.0 to 8.1 upgrade is more troublesome than win7 to win8 upgrade kb some cases...

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Hardkernel nixes RPi clone project

ilmari

On the face of it, rpi loojs like a hard sell. Severely aged SoC, where the cpu is more of a companion thing rather than the main phrpose of the chip, etc etc..

However, what rpi has got is volume and community. While allwinner chips might be 10 times faster, you'll spend a lifetime getting software support up to the same level as on the pi.

For this reason, rpi boards continue to outsell allwinner-based boards, and will probably do so until sunxi has the same level of maturity and ease of use as raspberry pi.

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ilmari

There were/are factories making straight copies of raspberry pi. These were contacting the smaller distributors, offering the much cheaper rpi.

I imagine broadcom hit the killswitch when this started getting known.

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Intel unleashed octo-core speed demon for the power-crazed crowd

ilmari

Re: I'm currently sporting a reasonably old i7 2600k

I need a faster cpu for kerbal spsce program, so I can build bigger spaceships. Unfortunately, haswell-e wont help run KSP's single threaded physics engine any faster.

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Leak: Intel readies next round of NUC

ilmari

NUC has never been that easy to find, and the pricing was kinda mad..

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Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report

ilmari

8.2V shutdown threshold is very wasteful, the battery will have delivered far less than half its stored energy at 8.2. At 5.4V, that woukd be closer to 95%.

And as others have said earlier, 6xAA battery holder, or even 6xAAA, would be far more cost effective.

Carbon-zinc, zinc chloride (Super) Heavy Duty batteries are only useful in the case where the wage cost of replacing them is near zero. Or in the case where the batteries last years anyway, though you run an increased risk of leakage.. Which again you'd want free workers for the cleanup.

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No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off

ilmari

They should have made it round. Rectangular still requires aligning angles on 3 axes, though now on the one axis you've got 2 correct angles instead of just one.

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Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'

ilmari

Re: Good luck to 'em but...

Yep, you can see the nerd mentality. The first reply is usually 'did yiu try ssh into it via usb networking', second is 'send it in'. round-trip of 4 days including time spent in mail, that was impressive.

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Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum

ilmari

Emergency calls

emergency calls, and calls in general, are surely already prioritized over data?

Though one wonders what the point is for many people to call about the same emergency, congests the call centre and prevents them handling other emergencies elsewhere.

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Quicker, easier to fly to MOON than change web standards ... OR IS IT?

ilmari

Is this yet another plot to make browsers and websurf even slower and more bloated than it already is? :(

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Hey Intel – that new Pro 2500 SSD looks awfully familiar

ilmari

Consistency

Would be interesting to see what performance consistency is like. That's more important metric today, when all SSDs are "more than fast" in every aspect, the main differentiating factor in perdormance becomes the worst case performance..

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Did cosmic radiation nuke $25 satellite swarm? 100 snoozing Sprites face fiery death

ilmari

I wonder if their computer system had redundancy...

You woukd think they would, as even the amateur high altitude balloon people have used , well essentially triply redundant arduino arrays, and have been able to detect and report back the number of times their cpus have been affected by radiation.. iirc around half dozen 'events' at balloon altitudes..

You would think the amsat community designed their previous sats sanely too, as some of them are still up there and working..

But then, are thess people just some random dudes that threw together a kickstarter and ignored the experiences of amateur satellite operators that came before them, or did they indeed have best practice design and got hit by too much radiation for their redundancy to cope with?

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Display tech based on EYEBALLS could reduce teens' mobe-fiddling

ilmari

Brightness doesn't go low enough on most devices. Turning them on in a dark place is still similar to looking into the end of a lightsabre when switching it on...

Also, I feel the ambient light sensors dont quite work as intended when they're on fhe front of the devices. Either I myself place the sensor in shadow, or they pick up something bright behind me, or pick up dark behind me, and completely ignore what is, from my point of view, the background against which the display's brightness should match.

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

ilmari

Jpeg2000 never caught on either. By the time usable software appeared, bandwidth and storage capacities had increased to the point for the majority of use cases it didn't make much difference whether images uncompressed, jpeg or jpeg2000 compressed.

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Drone expert: Amazon's hypetastic delivery scheme a pie in the sky

ilmari

Re: Not DRONES just Radio Controlled Pests...

Considering 30 minutes from clicking and receiving goods, I assumed they'd all be electric rather than internal combustion engine.

Although, on another note, the challenges involved in making a ICE powered multicopter are kinda interesting, and as a side-effect you'd probably end up with a more aerodynamically efficient, and a more aerobatically capable vehicle :-) Sort of like a multirotored helicopter, instead of multipropellered flattened airplane standing on its tail.

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JESUS battery HEALS itself - might make electric cars more practical

ilmari

LiFePo4 chemistry batteries seem to be rated for 3000-5000 cycles today.. But then you need double amount of them compared to LiCo, LiMNi and similar..

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Firefox OS update adds performance, polish to Mozilla's webby mobes

ilmari

Let's see...

... if manufacturers do any better with firefox os, or if they leave it rotting on ancient versions like with android devices..

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Brew me up, bro: 11-year-old plans to make BEER IN SPACE

ilmari

I thought the top vs bottom fermenting stuff was mostly related to so called "top fermenting" varieties fermenting vigorously enough that the Co2 produced stirs the liquid enough to toss the little critters around and form foam at the top..

As for flocculation, perhaps a German HefeWeizen or Belgian Wit will taste better in space, because the yeast will NOT accumulate at the bottom, so you don't have to shake the bottle in order to knock the yeast loose (and lose some carbonation while doing so).

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So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

ilmari

Finns nod for yes and shake for no.

If you offer or posess alcohol, any and all responses or gestures mean "Good Sir, please , a sampling of your beverage, or I shall ensure your next liquid intake is intravenous.".

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ZTE Open: This dirt-cheap smartphone is a swing and a miss

ilmari

I bought one, mostly because I wondered how the hell any browser in the year 2013 can run usably on less than a gigabyte or two of ram and dual cores. Well, the answer was that it doesn't.

My 2009 Nokia N900 with its 2010 gecko-based browser and 600MHz cpu loads websites (those that still work on 3 year old browsers) faster than the Zte Open..

Try load theregister in landscape mode on ZTE Open. You get notice about cookies splattered on the bottom half of the screen, and attempts to tap "I agree" just opens whatever link is underneath the "I agree" button. Usually some ad.

I couldn't agree more about the keyboard. Comparing it with the N900 again (it might be unfair to compare with 2009 $600 phone), its unpredictive onscreen keyboard on 3.5" RESISTIVE screen is more usable than the ZTE Open keyboard... that's quite an achievement..

I wanted a simple device just for web browsing in bed after laptop and tablet become too heavy to hold up over my head, and thought that even if firefox os has no apps, atleast it has a browser that should be good.. Too many websites don't work in it, and there's no way to disable the broken "mobile" websites, atleast firefox for android has such an option, and even an extension that makes it default..

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Enterprise storage: A history of paper, rust and flash silicon

ilmari

Nand archival

I'd advise against using "cold" nand for archiving, the data does fade, especially on TLC.

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Finns, roamers, Nokia: So long, and thanks for all the phones

ilmari

Apps

As for apps, most of them are garbage. Ignoring games, Filter out all the "website as an app" (including youtube, netflix and everything else that only exists because the browser and/or website sucks too much), reference/book/cityguide/wallpaper crud, soundboards and other gimmicks, and you're left with a pretty small number of apps on any app store.

As for my own "killer apps", it would be openvpn, a scientific/graphing calculator (or gnuplot), some spreadsheet thing.

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What Surface RT flop? Nokia said to be readying WinRT slab for September

ilmari

Both "Microsoft" and "Windows" brands are burdens.

Despite the majority of the world's PCs running windows doesn't mean people love windows, or microsoft. They put up with it. When they've got non-microsoft-windows choices in tablet area, they'll go for something they don't yet hate.

I wonder what would've happened if Microsoft had called xbox "Microsoft Windows Vista Game machine"...

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Silent Circle shutters email service

ilmari

With SSL you're at the mercy of the certificate authorities, who are slaves to their governments and to money. The only app that doublechecks stuff is the Chrome browser, which has hardcoded the expected certificate chain for google services.Not that that helps, as google is subject to government spying anyways.

As for everything else, a compromised, rogue or court controlled certificate authority can issue certs that appear (and technically are) entirely legit, but enable man in the middle eavesdropping. If the data at any point flows through a node on the internet located in a hostile country (hostile towards free speech and privacy that is), it will be compromised. Considering the majority of traffic on the internet at some point goes through the US, UK and EU, basically everything you send can be intercepted.

The big problem with encryption is in the key exchange.

PGP where you physically exchange keys with eachother is a little bit better, but you can't trust the software and operating system, and you can't trust the hardware, they've all been exposed to hostile governments at some point in the supply chain.

For all the bad rap China gets for it's great firewall and censorship, they're starting to look benigner and refreshingly honest, because atleast they let people know there indeed exist such policies.

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Canonical: Last change to Ubuntu Edge phone price – we promise

ilmari

$700 is roughly in between top-end android phones and below iphones (when effects of downpayment plans baked into subscription prices are removed) . If the hw specs match the pricing, they'll probably sell a few.

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UK gov's smart meter dream unplugged: A 'colossal waste of cash'

ilmari

Re: Bring them on....

(Disclaimer: I don't live in UK)

Yeah, biggest fun with getting a smart meter for me was that it has a blinking led, which is easy to interface with an arduino to log and plot power use. It was much harder to read the old spinning disc type meter.

As a result, when the inhabitants can see how much power the dish washer, washing machine and tumble dryer use, we've been much better at running them at night when the electricity is cheaper. The old myths about fridge and freezer being energy bandits have also been proven wrong.

As for the other issues, people here are mostly concerned about the smart meters' alarming tendency to spontaneously explode and charr the wallpaper. On the other hand, people are enthusiastic hoping they get a meter that just silently fails. It typically takes 2 or 3 months before the distribution company notices the meter is dead, so you get 2-3 months free power :)

It doubles as thunderstorm comfort, if you forget to unplug your computer when leaving the house, and you get a lightning strike somewhere within 3km of the 10km long aerial wire feeding your house, when weeeping over the charred remains of your computer, you can comfort yourself with that the meter probably also died, and you can enjoy free power for a few weeks :)

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