* Posts by Suricou Raven

1524 posts • joined 20 Jun 2007

Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

Suricou Raven

Of course they don't work.

I'm surprised sites today run on modern browsers half the time. No-one hand-codes sites any more, and even the most basic sites seem to demand an ugly wad of code to handle interactive menus and dynamic content.

What happened to simple design, centered around the content being presented?

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Google Now lands on iOS

Suricou Raven

Linguistics

Assuming that voice becomes a primary way to interact with mobile technology, and that this lasts for a few decades, could this actually alter pronounciation of some words to better fit the foibles of the technology? Once someone gets used to asking their phone for information on transport disruptions in 'South-Wark,' the new computer-friendly pronounciation may well slip into use in conversation too.

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Cameron: Get those saucy websites off Blighty's public Wi-Fi

Suricou Raven

Missing the point.

He isn't saying that there's a problem with people looking at pornography in public. His argument, and that of the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety who are the real force behind this announcement, is that blocking pornography is required to protect children from accidentially stumbling across images that might scar their innocent little minds. This is the internet - risque advertising, frank discussion of sexuality, and lots of trolls who like plastering porn all over public forums just as a joke.

It won't end here, of course. Block porn now, and next year there will be calls to block sites containing racism or religious hatered, then libelous content, sites promoting copyright infringement, sites explaining how to get around the censorship, pro-suicide sites, unregulated forums... anything not suitable for ages three and up.

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Suricou Raven

Once the filtering technology is in place and accepted for public wifi, it becomes much easier to justify imposing it on home internet connections too.

'Slippery slops' isn't just a textbook logical fallacy: It's also a recognised and effective political strategy.

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How much will Google pay to bring fiber to Provo, Utah? Try $1

Suricou Raven

Re: Actually those networks should belong to the people

An interesting idea, but this being in the US there's an issue you overlooked: Ownership by 'the people' really means operation by the government, which means a very politicised internet. Most US states already have laws that forbid tax funding to libraries unless they install pornography filters on their network - it's a near-certainty that some (R-suffixed) lawmakers would introduce something of similar nature, possibly inspired by the old Comstock laws. Internet service providers are not prohibited from imposing manditory censorship on their networks, but there's long been an informal agreement that they won't (child porn blocks aside), and they have little business incentive to do so. Not so the government, where a good moral scare and crusade is a proven successful route to reelection.

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Suricou Raven

Legal oddity.

Do any armchair lawyers know why the $1 payment? I've seen similar things in other US legal situations - the Boy Scouts renting public land and various public buildings for $1/yr to use as regional headquarters, for example. Why this curious small payment.

I've always assumed there's a law somewhere that forbids the government from simply handing over public assets to private owners and the $1 token fee is just a sneaky way around it, but that seems far too simple an explanation - even congress would hesitate to write a law quite so trivial to circumvent.

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'Leccy-stealing, grid-crippling hackers could take down EV-juicing systems

Suricou Raven

Re: Oh FFS

The complexity of car charging isn't just about the billing. It's only mostly about the billing. There's also a matter of compatibility: Some charger physical connectors can carry different types of power, and needs communication between car and charger to establish what voltage the car wants and how much power the car can safely draw without blowing the fuse.

"I'm a car. Feed me. I can take 110AC, 220AC or 500V DC, maximum 100A. "

"You must be joking. Idiot's got me plugged into some pathetic little American socket - I can give you 110V at 10A, or 220V at 5A, and I only do AC."

"Give me the 220, and tell the owner we'll be done this time next week."

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Suricou Raven

There is a billing and metering system, so you'd have to hack it.

You could do that by the high-tech method, but in this case I'd look at the low-tech way first: Get a triangle key, pop the cover. Somewhere in there will be a high-current relay. Just jab a wrench in between the big terminals. Hello, power!

Well, it might be a bit more complicated than that, really... but probably not much. It's basically just a big power supply, and you can't encrypt electricity. Find it, tap it, steal it.

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Boffins say flash disk demands new RAID designs

Suricou Raven

Nice idea, with a small problem: That means caching a lot of writes in RAM for some time, which means lots of nice fun data corruption in the event of an interuption in service. It leaves your data in a quite fragile state - better make sure your UPSs have good batteries and hope nothing breaks down.

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Android FOUND ON TABLETS inscribed with WORD OF GOD

Suricou Raven

In-church entertainment.

The internet offers many things far more interesting than a preacher.

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German ransomware threatens with sick kiddie smut

Suricou Raven

Re: Very dangerous indeed

All the PCs, laptops, external hard drives, CD/DVD-R, and your mobile phone. It isn't practical to go through everything in forensic detail at the scene of the crime, so standard police procedure is to confiscate anything and everything that could be used to store data and hold it until the specialists have done their thing.

I'm with you on this. If I ever come across child porn, I'm going to ignore it. I don't want to get pulled into an investigation for something like that.

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Public cloud will grow when experienced IT folks DIE

Suricou Raven

Plain old (and I mean old) sysadmins, of course. But a lot less of them than would be needed without the cloud providers consolidating things. The task doesn't disappear, it just centralises, allowing fewer people to provide the same service.

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A lightbulb that does IPv6: You know you want it

Suricou Raven

Re: Are we really talking about putting the network gubbins in a bulb...

This is Zigbee, not powerline networking. It runs over 2.4GHz, via an ultra-low-power, low-bandwidth and correspondingly low-speed protocol. It's main use is in industrial automation - tying networks of temperature/humidity sensors around a site back to an environmental monitoring station, that sort of thing. It's ad-hoc self-organising mesh topology is good for covering sprawling, constantly-changing sites.

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Suricou Raven

Re: Whoooosh!

The only use I see is in pairing with switches - the low-power zigbee stuff can give you light switches that run for decades on a battery, or even be powered by the action of flicking the switch. That means you can make the switches moveable: Wonderful for those doing a bit of DIY who'd rather not knock half a wall down to install new cables.

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No, really: Austrians develop hi-tech jewellery made out of concrete

Suricou Raven

This is silly.

1. They get a super-expensive precious metal, but hide most or all of it from view. You might as well use steel!

2. If it does catch on, you'll find a hundred factories open making knock-offs that do use steel. And it'll be impossible to tell them apart without destroying the jewelry.

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US bill prohibits state use of tech linked to Chinese government

Suricou Raven

Motherlode, not motherload. Lode, as in lode of ore. It's a mining term.

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Ubuntu tapped by China for national operating system

Suricou Raven

Re: I don't understand

Politics aside, China and the entire western world have an economic relationship that both find very beneficial - so much that they are willing to largely overlook political differences. Companies of the west demand cheap labor and lax regulation in order to produce the dirt-cheap goods that consumers expect, while China needs rapid industrial growth and investment to turn what was a land of impoverished subsistence farmers only a few decades ago into a modernised industrial powerhouse. The economic exchange is simply too great for either side to sacrifice it over something as petty as an ideological conflict, or even rampant human rights abuse. If China were to stop doing business with the 'capitalist pigs' then their economy would instantly collapse leading to massive rioting, unemployment and poverty. If the US were to outlaw importing the products of cheap Chinese labor and a poison-the-earth environmental policy, the population would cheer... for about two days, before they realise that almost every product they could want to buy suddenly costs ten times as much. So both sides continue to exchange heated rhetoric and maintain an active process of intelligence-gathering, but can't afford to go without the other.

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Suricou Raven

Re: How long before the 'backdoors' start appearing?

It's open source, no prospect of hiding backdoors. They'd be noticed eventually. I view this as more defensive: China has just as much reason to distrust the products of American companies as America has to distrust the products of Chinese companies. Even if Windows is free of backdoors right now, one could be Windows Updated in easily should hostilities break out.

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Universe gains an extra hundred million years

Suricou Raven

Whenever I see something that incomprehenseable, I attribute it to one of the super-mathhead cosmologists trying to explain things to us common folk in much the same way we might try to explain the concept of a computer to the first member of a jungle-dwelling tribe to make contact with civilisation.

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Suricou Raven

Re: In other news...

I do expect, before the end of the month, to come across at least one creationist claiming that scientists changing their estimate just prove they were wrong before and thus don't know anything.

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Apple exec says music labels, Hollywood, 'old fashioned' on copyright

Suricou Raven

Re: Get Ready to DOWNVOTE!

Doesn't work. First sale applies to physical purchases of a copyrighted work, but with digital sales like iTunes there is never actually a legal 'sale' to apply first sale too. It's a license, under contract. The first sale doctrine doesn't apply. Some stores generously permit you to transfer your purchases to other customers, but they are under no obligation to do this.

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Samsung: We're doing smart watches too

Suricou Raven

We'll need wireless charging.

In 2015 you get home from work. You take your mobile phone out and connect it to your charger, take off your watch and connect it to another, then your bluetooth earpiece. In a few more years you can add your eyepiece, either Google glass or one of the rivals that will doubtless spring up. The end-of-day charge is looking like quite a ritual, and in a household of four people you'll have to devote at least a shelf to the array of chargers needed to host all the devices. Wireless charging is starting then to look less like the gimicky luxury for the lazy it is now, and more like an essential feature to save the five-minute delve through the wormery trying to work out which cable leads to the end you want.

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Sysadmins: Let's perch on Microsoft Santa's lap, show him our wish list

Suricou Raven

Re: And the reaction in MS Towers is?...?

The marketing people would refer to that as 'devaluing the brand.' If you make your products cheap, people will regard them as worth less in ways other than just monetary.

Besides, MS wants to kill Windows 7 too, eventually.

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Rise Of The Machines: What will become of box-watchers, delivery drivers?

Suricou Raven

Re: Automation = Oxymoron

But the number of workers displaced is less than the number of new workers needed to maintain the equipment. You've replaced a large number of low-skill positions with a small number of medium-skill positions*. That's where the cost-savings come from. The total number of jobs created has still gone down.

*And a tiny number of high-skill positions to design the things, but that number is tiny indeed.

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Suricou Raven

Re: They can't retrain as storage technology engineers.

Like what? Once the drivers, cleaners, assembly-line operators, street sweepers, fast-food servers, lower-cost restraunt chefs and shelf-stackers are all out of work, there may just not be enough skilled work to go around even if you could somehow come up with enough money to pay for a few years of training for all.

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Suricou Raven

Re: Just the tip of the iceberg

Text or phone you. Give warnings at half-hour/20min/20min/5min/arrived. Come the arrival time you just go out to the truck, enter your security code or insert bank card to verify identity, and the robotics inside will move your parcel to the collection window. Once the parcel is removed the truck resumes, towards the next customer.

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4K video may wow vidiots, but content creators see pitfalls

Suricou Raven

Is there any point at the consumer end?

Get a nice large television, sit someone a bit too close to it, and they are still going to have a hard time telling 720p from 1080p. The presence of compression artifacts is more of a bother than limited resolution. 4k and up could have its niche in production and the cinema, but would the typical viewer even be able to notice the difference at home?

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National Security Letters ruled unconstitutional

Suricou Raven

Re: NSL's Hells's Bells?

Depends upon the district. Many police departments regard speed traps as a handy money-maker, and so position them in areas where people are likely to speed but pose no risk of an accident, such as at the bottom of a straight hill - drivers pick up a little speed on the way down, enough to go over the limit. The same thing happened for a time with speed cameras here in the UK, until public outrage pushed the practice out of favor.

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Ten pi-fect projects for your new Raspberry Pi

Suricou Raven

Re: My project...

Switch to a one-wire bus with the DS18S20 temperature sensors and you'll be able to hook a lot of sensors up to it - I used to have them all over the top floor of my house, poking through holes in the ceiling with the bus in the loft. That way your thermostat can more inteligently decide when the heat is needed, and analysing the sensor logs will tell you which rooms are losing the most heat to the outside world.

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Suricou Raven

Cloud storage.

Having a handy webserver you can upload files to from a browser and download from again is a good idea. I set one up myself. Not using a Pi - it runs on my home server/router. Just apache, some .htaccess files and one rather small perl script. You really need very little to make it work.

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'Quantum fridge' gets close to absolute zero

Suricou Raven

Re: printer ports?

I doubt there is a standard interface for a one-of-a-kind experimental quantum cooling device operating on a principle never before demonstrated. So they probably used whatever was lying around the laboratory parts bin.

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Boffins implant almost-cellphone in the BRAIN

Suricou Raven

That thing is huge.

Please, go easy on your EBEs.

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Plastic Logic shows off bendy 'leccy posters: Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Suricou Raven

Re: How much?

Billboards. You know the annoying type: Giant video screens, or elaborate mechanisms that allow one poster to roll up for another to replace it. Tech like this could do the same but potentially cheaper, lighter and more reliable.

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Sparkfun takes roadtrip across US in campervan full of electronics

Suricou Raven

Re: While electronics is great fun

The two skills go together. You want to make a robotic tank equipped with an arsenal of nerf darts and beanbag launchers to do battle with friends? Then you'll need code. But you'll also need a solid understanding of voltage regulation and power management so the big motors don't ruin the supply for your delicate Arduino board, enough knowledge of fundamentals to spec a motor controller that'll drive them, and the means to make drivers that'll let an arduino output drive the solonoid hooked up to the pneumatic cannon. Code will only let you get half-way there and, while you can get a lot of the parts as pre-made module, good luck finding a set of pre-made Angry Robot Eyes LED displays to mount on the front.

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Tito's Mars mission to use HUMAN WASTE as radiation shield

Suricou Raven

Re: Just a thought

While water would certainly be helpful in shielding, it may be more helpful inside the astronauts. This is a mass-constrained design: Getting anything out of the earth's well costs a lot of money. That's the appeal of using feces as shielding: It's already available during the mission, unavoidably, so by putting it to some practical use you can reduce the amount of shielding you need to launch. Same for the idea of using a final booster stage for directional shielding: It's effectively free mass, once it's done it's main job.

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Suricou Raven

Re: One way trip

I never said I was refering to this mission. I was just throwing out ideas for hypothetical future missions.

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Suricou Raven

Re: One way trip

There's no chance of a martian superbug (though it's plausible that some earth-sourced extremophile might be at home there). A one-way manned landing is still a good idea, though. The astronauts would spend the rest of their (probably short) lives there, but they could get a lot of science done. Far more than any robotic probe we can make right now, and it's a good first step towards a sustainable colony too. The only problem is that the public would be appalled at the idea, for some strange moral reason. Eventually China will do it.

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Four firms pitch hi-def DRM for Flash cards

Suricou Raven

Re: Fighting piracy is costing the movie industry millions.

I can't say anything about TDK specifically, but there do exist DVDs which use weird layouts - the movie stored in a non-linear order within those VOBs, and dependent upon transitions and scripting to make it play in the expected order. Either as a deliberate anti-ripping measure, or as an accidential effect of an unusual special feature. The Matrix DVD was well-known for the latter. They are still rippable, but take a bit more work to manually figure out what goes where - a task that itsself requires watching the movie, several times, out of sequence. It's a great annoyance for those who rip their own DVDs, but doesn't do more to the internet pirates than delay the torrent release by a couple of hours.

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Suricou Raven

Re: CPRM?

Content Protection for Removeable Media. A very, very similar scheme. It's present in all Secure Digital cards: That's what the 'secure' part indicates. It just isn't used by anyone. Ever. An abandoned DRM scheme. The demand wasn't there, as commercial sales of content on SD card never took off, and hardware players all went with competing methods based on tying files in some manner to devices rather than media. There was no interest in media-tying, because the only advantage that could give would be in allowing users to re-sell their purchased media second-hand. A feature content suppliers actively opposed.

If you remember a big panic a few years back about DRM being built into hard drives, CPRM was the technology being panicked over.

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Suricou Raven

CPRM?

This all seems very familiar.

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Wikileaker Bradley Manning pleads not guilty to 'aiding the enemy'

Suricou Raven

Military justice.

Secret hearings, secret evidence, secret everything, no jury, just three judges who know they aren't going anywhere in their own careers if they don't find as the higher ranks decree. Why are we even bothering with this charade? Might as well just throw him into solitary confinement for the rest of his life right now and save the world the drama. No-one is buying this trial as anything but a rather ineffective attempt to claim fairness. The outcome is as good as fixed already.

They are barely even pretending this is a trial: Ruling in advance that he can only have one witness and that his most effective defenses are off-limits? It's a kangaroo court.

I suspect the officers in charge are torn between wanting to get this over with and wanting to put on a big show of how effectively any future 'traitors' will be destroyed for putting their own conscience over the reputation of the country.

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Own a drone: Fine. But fly a drone with a cam: Year in the clink

Suricou Raven

Re: Tricky one

That would be 'The Light of Other Days.' Good book.

Do not confuse with the short story by the same title. They are nothing alike. Just a coincidence in naming.

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Suricou Raven

Re: a pole?

Don't forget the traditional method: Binoculars or telescope.

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Boffins FREEZE PHONES to crack Android on-device crypto

Suricou Raven

Re: Very interesting but somewhat redundant?

They'll lock the phone completely for some time after a number of failed attempts. Trying it via the usual entry means would work, eventually, but take a lot of time. You'd need to make something like a little robot that could operate the touchscreen.

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Suricou Raven

Re: Are you for real?

Does anyone *want* a BB jailbreak?

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Suricou Raven

Re: capacitor-based overwrite

That would complicate the process, but there would be other ways to ensure abrubt powerdown and reset. Open case and short pins, perhaps. Or magnetic pulse - I've done that to a mobile before while using it to film a can-crusher I built.

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Any storm in a port

Suricou Raven

Re: I'm sure I can beat 37 out of 37

It's a quantum thing. USB ports have 1/2 spin.

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Arista wants to DANZ for high freaky traders

Suricou Raven

Not there, James

Network taps. Latency isn't such a huge issue on the taps themselves: The every-microsecond-counts trades don't go through them in order to execute the trades. This stuff is used to analyse the trades after the event in order to better understand the nature of the traffic and thus how to fine-tune the rest of the network to shave off another infinitesimal slice of latency.

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Forget wireless power for phones - Korea's doing it for buses

Suricou Raven

Re: AC @ 10:05 -Wet blanket time

I like China's solution more. Pantographs at bus stops only. Busses have ultracaps. They'll only go for a few minutes on a charge, but that's enough to get from one stop to the next - and they charge so fast, they can get back up to full capacity in the time the bus is parked there.

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British, Belgian boffins battle buffering bandwidth bogeyman

Suricou Raven

Re: Not: Bufferbloat, but regulatory bloat

Not so practical on the internet though. For one thing, everyone would decide that their packets are by far the most important.

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