Re: What did they expect?
There is also that one can get one "almost" as good a couple of revisions back for 10% of the current price. They are nice phones for many, they'd be freakin' awesome at £75.
1411 posts • joined 10 Aug 2012
This sort of thing is going to be a big problem going forward. If companies can just make it go away by paying a fine, it will just be looked at as a cost of doing business when they get caught. If a few top execs have to spend some time in the lockup, maybe they'd be a little more careful flogging off personal information that they shouldn't. I doubt Zuck would be too happy spending even 60 days in jail with no internet and monitored phone calls.
Neoc, I have an "unlimited" plan. I can make as many phone calls as I like, send all the texts I care to and watch cat videos on YouTube non-stop. After 22gb, the cat videos are going to be buffering a lot and waiting for data. I'll still get them, they'll just take longer. I have unlimited voice calls but only inside the country. Is that now limited?
The use of the work "unlimited" is a bit deceptive for the bulk of the population that left school never having learned how to read, but it doesn't read "Unlimited High Speed Data". In fact, the short fine print on the adverts do say how speeds will fall after using the 22gb or if the network is congested.
The huge question is how is all of this data being used. Is it a herd of firefighters looking for some light entertainment during breaks or is it urgent communications? Is recreational use impacting more important comms? Why don't the firefighters have their own phones, with their own plans for non-firefighting use? Why is the fire department using a third party supplier instead of deploying their own secure comm system for a major fire? My Ham group can have a radio net around an area in a couple of hours with worldwide reach. A couple of times a year we practice just that. Hell, we even trade messages with ISS.
There are circumstances where it's handy to have a way to turn on lights and do other things without having to get up and flip a switch or change a setting. It's a big leap to add a layer of tech that you have absolutely no control over and can do nothing about if it stops working other than finding another way to do the same task and paying through the nose again to implement it. Along with KISS, there is also the Ian Malcolm rule, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should". Parents thought an internet connected baby cam would be a good thing until they started finding out that it was simple to hack them and what they did was to install a public CCTV into their home.
Most people here could breadboard some very simple workarounds from Chinesium parts found on eBay/Banggood/Aliexpress if there wasn't something already available from the local DIY shop. Programmable thermostats have been around for ages. It's still possible to get x-10 control products to control most anything that connects to the mains. The cloud services that support this type of kit will only be around until the company isn't making any money (or enough money) from new parts sales. Once the product is discontinued or sold off to another firm, it's a goner. So, within a year or three when the novelty has worn off and the negative publicity won't impact the company.
"nobody really *needs* a remote control for their TV,"
nor the TV to start with. I have three. One in the garage that needs a new home. One in hall closet that needs to be binned (works, but no AV conns and can't pickup DTV signals) and a big honkin' chunk of glass (30") in a corner of the living room that was here when I moved in. Works a treat and I'll throw in a second hand bluray for anybody that wants to come and get it. I've got shelves of books that still need reading and a drive full of audiobooks. TV went to the dogs years ago and the few things worth watching can be "found" posted here and there.
ma1010, I'm the same way. I programmed my thermostat years ago and haven't touched it. I live in the desert so the heat is off in the summer and the swamp cooler keep things cool. Spring and Fall, I save a few bob and don't have anything running at all, I just open and close a window or two. The last thing I'm thinking about when I'm out on a job is if I should change the settings.
"Nest smoke alarms (and thermostats) have most of the same privacy issues as the speakers do."
I don't see the point with those for the price they want. My programmable HVAC control works perfectly well. It changes the temps to not heat or cool an empty house too much when I'm gone to work. It's warms the house up a bit in the morning during winter starting before I get up so I can have a shower without my teeth chattering and turns back down before I normally leave. I have no thoughts of changing it remotely ever, but I am concerned that somebody that discovers a "smart" control online might want to have a go at running the heat up to max or the cooling down to min (or both at the same time if there isn't a lock out) while I'm away. That will make for a fancy bill at the end of the month. It would p!ss off the cat too. IF I were to go on holiday and completely forget I've left the HVAC going, I have the ultimate remote, I phone my buddy that has a key to my flat and ask him to go switch it off and to help himself to any beer in the fridge. Problem solved, everybody happy.
"it can become more economical to buy it in order to use the parts for other projects over buying the parts directly. "
The thrift store is great for sourcing electronic parts. If I need a 5v/12v power supply for something or a battery circuit that boosts 7.4v (two Li cells) to 12V, I can usually find a borked something for £1 and chop the bit out that I need. Purchased online from China is more.
"All it gets to hear are discussions about food, and the kids day in school or pets or something, all truly boring family chatter."
From that it's not hard to determine how many kids, what genders, approximate age, when the leave for and return from school. What and how many pets you have. How often you have visitors over, age, gender, length of stay. While you discuss meals, you give away preferences, health prohibitions, possible religious affiliation based on dietary choices, budget concerns, etc.
A good investigator could glean a tremendous amount of information about somebody from a recording made over one day. A computer may miss intonation, colloquialisms, inferences and things a human will pick up on, but over weeks and months of chipping away with infinite patience, it will learn way to much about you to every feel safe again. Given the way that data leaks like a sieve from these companies, do you want to have somebody blackmailing you and mentioning the names and ages of your children, where they go to school, grade, name of teacher(s), if they take a bus, walk, ride a bike or are driven there and back, after school activities, recent photos/video........ Somebody could do that in a classic way with PI's or spying in person, but with these new listening and video devices, they can do it from anywhere on the planet. They have also moved from just sitting outside of your home with a long lens to being virtually at the dining room table. Are you frightened yet? No? go get a mirror and see if you are still breathing.
I've got the stack of kitchen timers that I can use when I've got multiple things going on. I don't need them broadcasting on the internet and controllable from my mobile because I'M STANDING RIGHT THERE with a full compliment of working fingers. I will set the timer on my phone if I have something in the oven that's going to take a while so I can go troll some commenters and not set off the smoke detector by forgetting that I've a cake baking.
"Andoid phone sat on the desk between us during the conversation and me having never searched for, or even thought about, any such thing - I came to find the very next morning Google Play Store recommending me the app for that exact device...?"
Statistically, one or a few such occurrences are not a sign of being spied on. We get bombarded by ads all of the time and most of them we don't even notice anymore, but since you had a recent discussion about that device, you would be much more likely to notice an ad about one (or the software).
The creepy thing is if you are exchanging email with a family member through a social media portal and are talking about taking a Mexican cruise and then start getting ads such as "Thinking about a Mexican cruise, consider Alaska" (the Bahamas, etc). It's too specific for it to not have been generated by the system reading your "private" mail and using key words and phrases to market stuff at you.
"I don't quite know what the frightening implications are of Amazon hearing "Could be warmer in here. Alexa, turn up the heating." "
Then you see something on the news and toss out a statement like "I could kill somebody for saying something like that" only to find out that "I could kill" is a trigger phrase that has the unit flag your account. Wouldn't that be fun if the person you were raging at was killed shortly thereafter and there you are with that statement being forwarded for enquiry?
"Of course there are many 'smart home' hubs / devices that can be handled through a home hub and are only internet-connected so you can command them using your phone even when you're not home. It should be relatively easy to reuse these as a local-only controller, cutting out internet connection and using phone command through home wifi network"
Most of the ones I have seen won't work without a connection to the mothership. The data collection is a huge part of the revenue stream for somebody like Google, Apple and Amazon. They may not care when you switch lights on and off, but what you search and shop for can be very valuable individually and in aggregate with your neighbors/ age group/ family status, etc. To get all of the functionality all you have to do is give up your privacy and have whatever is said in your home available for subpoena by the filth. It will be very handy for the Pre-Crime units.
"without any need for a cloud. I can't believe nobody's working on that."
Ever seen Dragon Dictate? Speech to text and it's pretty good. You can even give it spoken commands for punctuation and formatting. Digging deeper, it might be possible to send a text file to an automation system to perform a task. I don't see anything too complicated making that work.
"is that why you can't remove the battery from most phones now?"
It's cheaper to make a phone that doesn't have to accommodate a removable battery. Glue the thing in and it can be a pouch cell with no hard plastic shell and no contacts to worry about corroding. Just solder the leads and seal the back.
I've seen a few stories on how he was caught and the biggest issue was reusing personas and his real name in a wide variety of places instead of keeping them all separate. Buying a laptop on Amazon wasn't something I remember hearing about, but was massively stupid. It would have been better to buy one used from a private party or at a computer swap meet paying cash and not generating any records. Lots of criminals that make piles of money often trip themselves up by buying expensive items such as cars that The Man tracks through registrations and taxes. Posh houses, boats, planes... anything like that is too noticeable to purchase with unclean money. A smart operator would get into a legitimate business and cook the books to show a nice profit, pay taxes on them all the while merely breaking even in reality. The company could then buy the fancy car and houses all above board without ringing any bells. The trouble is that the criminal wants to keep all of the money and not pay any taxes at all. Governments don't like that and have ways of finding people out when they make major purchases.
Getting a private server anonymously is not hard. I can go to the local mobile phone shop and get a new number and phone without having to show ID and just pay cash each month or pay online with a gift card purchased with cash someplace that doesn't have CCTV or poorly placed cameras where I can obscure my face with a hoody or wide brimmed hat. For fun, get a cowboy hat at the thrift store (if you never wear one). They have a large brim and you can toss it or drop it in a random donation bin when you are done. Get an email address from a free provider (not Google, someplace smaller). Take a drive to the country and find an out of the way address to give that will check out ok but since you will never get physical mail, that dog won't meow. The hosting company is mainly going to be concerned with getting paid. Once you are set up all you have to do is to keep the bill paid. Annual payments are best if you can afford them since discrepancies are less likely to trip you up as there will be no reason for any checking up, returned mail, etc.
Being near a train station is a good idea. You can do some war driving to locate open Wi-Fi nodes that you can get to with the train and log in from many different places as long as you're clever enough to watch out that you aren't putting pins in a map that describes the train route in an obvious way. Never, ever, ever be two different people at any of the locations where you're conducting illicit business. Some South American drug cartel leaders have pegged themselves by using a burner phone "for security" at a location and then making or receiving a call on their non-business phone in a short span of time. The cops then have another tidbit of information from that burner number and will track back it's purchase and activation plus any records, number listed in emails, texts, letters, etc.
Like a good actor, you have to be able to put on an whole new person and stay in character if you want to create something like the Silk Road. Break the 4th wall and you're nicked.
"not so sure about the science and economics given the extra weight and complexity."
The extra fuel and landing gear take about 45% more capability to land the booster. On some missions, SX doesn't have the margin on the F9 and just has to splash the booster. ULA just specs a rocket that will do the job since they have more range by adding solid boosters to a core. SX hasn't released a breakdown of the economics of reusing their boosters. In addition to the added capability the rocket needs, they have to tug the landing platform out to sea and be able to process the rocket when they get it back.
For BO's suborbital rocket, a bit of extra fuel isn't as big of a deal as with a rocket trying to achieve orbital speeds. It puts on a good show to land under power and it also means that the rocket won't fall over if they do it right. Land on uneven ground with a parachute and fall over and there can be lots of damage. Landing under power will mean that turn-around for the booster will be much faster.
"How much piloting do you think the average astronaut actually does? Basically you follow the instructions from ground control, who have the computers doing the calculations."
The Russians have always been big on central control for everything so their rockets are mostly automated. The same goes for the retired Space Shuttle. Space Ship Two vibrates so much that it would be hard for the pilot to precision fly the craft with the rocket engine firing. The human pilot is a backup for the computer in most cases (SS2 is completely manual). Just looking at the SpaceX manned capsule with touchscreens, it will be very hard to do very much piloting while under main power. If you look at the Apollo capsules, the controls are very manual with switch guards and plenty of room for gloved fingers to prevent being jostled into flipping the wrong switch.
"You know, the ones that can read a vehicle number plate from orbit :-)"
I have serious doubts about that one. As a photographer, I know what a few miles of atmosphere does to resolution. Number plates are also beneath a bit of overhang on the car so a photo from a satellite would have to be from a pretty good angle and on a good clear day with low humidity. Quality optics and a high res sensor help, but they can't overcome atmospheric distortion.
"since they're not trying to do anything useful like go to orbit"
There is a slice of up called the "ignorasphere" that is between what a balloon can do and the lowest orbit. There are plenty of researchers that are looking to put experiments into that realm. There is also a metric called Technical Readiness Level (TRL) that gauges the progress of something intended to be sent into space. A lower altitude rocket can be useful for testing some items to raise their TRL before the are fielded or tested further.
Blue Origin is doing it right with a program that has them scaling up as they prove out their hardware. They are also building their command and control procedures. Insurance will certainly be cheaper if they aren't blowing up rockets by pushing harder than they are capable of doing well.
BO may fly people sooner than SpaceX. While Elon brags that the F9/Dragon were built from the ground up to be man-rated, NASA isn't happy with their "put the astronauts on-board and they pump the fuel" approach since their last explosion happened while fueling. They are also years behind on a capsule that was supposed to have been designed from the beginning to carry astronauts. Seems like it isn't as simple as they thought to just bolt in some seats, put in a few touchscreens and add an oxygen bottle. I also find Elon's dialogue about having to teach the SX engineers about how much better using stainless steel is to build the BFR. Elon doesn't have any credentials in material science or mechanical engineering and he's lecturing ex-NASA engineers about materials for spacecraft. I expect that he demanded that they use stainless and that's all there was to it if they didn't want to be looking for a new job like all of the others that were sacked in the last purge.
The first private mission to land on the moon is likely going to be done by BO.
Normally, no it doesn't take all that distance to climb or descend, but if an aircraft has to go around, they might not be climbing back to a few thousand feet and may be turning into the pattern much closer than a departure. A plane may also come in on a short base from the pattern instead of flying a mile past the end of the runway for a long line up. The 2.9 miles is to anticipate those sorts of things plus a little margin. I was just watching a video on YouTube (just audio) where a 17 y.o. girl was doing her first solo flight in training to get her license and when she took off somebody spotting that one of the wheels fell off. She was very noticeably frightened and the tower had her circle around for a little while so a couple of inbound flights that were very close to land and she could burn off some fuel. They also wanted to get her instructor up in the tower to talk to her while people on the ground looked at the plane to see how much damage the plane had (it was just the wheel). Chances are that she wasn't pinpoint perfect on flying the pattern and if some yahoo had put up a drone, it could have spooked her. Spoiler, she made a perfect emergency landing and walked away with not even a bruise though she may have needed a change of trousers. Even the damage to the plane was minor.
The ones being shown on Tomorrows World were proper aircraft with wings and all. The scary things they show in the news now with 8 propellers and run on batteries are properly scary. I don't want them flying over me or anywhere near a motorway. Imagine one of those coming down on the M25 in the middle of the afternoon. Even if it doesn't hit anybody, the traffic will be buggered for ages.
" What exactly can someone do with a drone? What use are they actually?"
Estate agents love them to get photos of a property they are trying to sell. There are commercial operators that hire out to perform inspections of roofs, radio towers, sides of high rise buildings and other elevated places that are difficult or dangerous to access. Naturalists use them to study bird's nests and do counts on cliffsides and in high trees. Broadcasters use them to map the radiation pattern of transmitter antennas. Farmers use them with special cameras to inspect fields remotely. The list goes on and on. Private use is for fun. Previously the only way you could get an aerial photo is spend a big pile of money to hire out a plane or helicopter to take you up. For far less, you can buy a drone and do it yourself.
" Larger drones in testing cannot cause an uncontained engine failure."
A piece of foam that came off of the external tank of Space Shuttle Columbia damaged the leading edge of a wing and caused the craft to fail on reentry.
If a drone gets sucked through a jet engine, that engine must undergo a full inspection. If a drone impacts any part of an aircraft in flight it triggers an unplanned inspection. That grounds the aircraft and will usually mean a whole bunch of people are going to miss their flights. A smaller propeller aircraft built of lighter construction could take even more damage. So, is it likely that a jet engine will fail after ingesting a drone and cause the plane to crash? Probably not, but there is still a very small chance. It also has to be realized that take-offs and landings are the most dangerous portions of a flight. Losing power or having to shut down an engine would be a big problem. A drone getting lodged in the flap mechanism preventing normal operation is a problem. Scaring the hell out of the pilot by smacking into the windshield is not good either.
Usually the rule is "uninvolved persons" and it's meant to protect the public at events and parks, etc. If you are filming a car driving on an out of the way road where everybody is involved, that's not likely to be an issue. A kid in the garden with their parents supervising is not a problem. Flying over people trying to have a nice picnic at the park that you don't know is a problem.
Type "Drone fail" into YouTube and dive in for lots of accidents. The one that always stands out for me is a very large commercial drone that impacts millimeters behind a skier on a downhill racing course. "Crash" would be an insufficient description. It burst into pieces and made a small crater. If it had come down on the spectators, it was big enough that it could have killed somebody or caused very serious injuries. Another good one is a very bad operator flying one from the balcony of a skyscraper in New York until he smashed into the side of one too many buildings and his drone dropped many stories and landed pretty close to somebody on the pavement who scooped it up and sold the footage to the local TV news station. I don't think the owner was going to be too keen about retrieving his property or claiming Copyright on the video.
I think that was just a publicity campaign. Given the flight time of drones, the distance between the warehouse and delivery point would have to be fairly close. The noise from the drones is annoying so neighbors under the heaviest flight paths would create fuss and the drones would have to operate pretty low since the can't "see and avoid" which is a requirement for small aircraft flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Aircraft flying IFR are flying at thousands of feet. IFR flights are also filed in advance which would be tough for instant drone deliveries.
The Amazon drones would make good sport. Knock one down, throw a copper screen around it to prevent is yelling for its mother and you'd have a nice store of parts to DIY your own drone. I'd be before too long some Chinese electronics firm would be selling a replacement control board and remote that would bypass any anti-theft precautions.
Drones deliveries wouldn't be for a pack of bog rolls, they would be hauling stuff like iPhones and other small, light and expensive kit. The service cost would be pretty high so they'd make good targets not only for the drone, but whatever cargo they are delivering. I guess if you are really bad at planning purchases ahead and have lots of money to throw around, drone delivery might be for you, but with the warehouse close by, I could either pick the item up or have it delivered by the next day for much less.
Clubs are a great way to get some slack. If you are into hobby rocketry, having an organized club sort out all of the permissions is the easiest all around. There are lots of model aircraft clubs. If you are out in the country, unless you are being annoying nobody is going to come out and write a ticket.
Staying away from airports with a drone is just good sense. Perhaps it would be good to carve out an exception for commercially licensed operators that have passed a rigorous test so they can fly a drone closer to photograph/video real estate and perform inspections of structures closer in to airports. The cameras on the drones have Ultra F'in Wide Angle (UFWA) lenses on them so there is no need to fly them 100'm over something to get an image. If it's a big plot of land, several images can be made and assembled in Photoshop which will return a higher resolution too.
In the US you are directed to NOT call the ATC or local airport but must file a waiver request with the FAA in advance. The last thing they want is people flooding the ATC with calls to just be told no. If you are doing work on an airport, it is possible to get waiver quickly and a NOTAM filed. Virgin Galactic likes to get aerial images of Space Ship Two and White Knight Two when they are taxiing out and after they have returned. The difference is that the operation is being done by experienced aircraft operators with direct communication with the tower and the airport is closed when they do a flight.
One of the issues with going to Mars is that clothing would be a problem. Wear out your unders and it's a couple of years to get a fresh pack. Of course, all petroleum based fabrics are out. Wool? Yeah, right. That leaves mainly cotton and flax (linen) and then there is the problem of making cloth and assembling it into clothing. 3D printing a loom would be a major feat, but a loom might be one of the first round of machines that would need to be built from locally sourced materials. The first problem with going to Mars is having healthy enough humans after the trip out. After that, they are going to need just a huge list of things since living off of the land is not an option. Setting up a moon base and running experiments such as finding out what will grow will be crucial to traveling further out.
They knew that the plants would not survive. It was a simple and interesting experiment to see if plants would be ok with the 1/6 gravity. Longer tests will be needed to see how different plants will grow and whether food stuffs can be cultivated from Earth stock or if mutated varieties will need to be cobbled together so lunar colonists can feed themselves and catapult tons of wheat each day to India.
I've never seen a coverage map that states a resolution. There are spots in my house and the garage that are black holes for signal and I don't expect that any coverage map is going to show signal strength in 1m grids. Most of the time, the mobile coverage is not that bad. It punks out in the boonies, but on a major highway (motorway) it's pretty amazing to have good signal where there is nothing but wheat fields from horizon to horizon. I think we all know that when a call drops, give it a couple of minutes and ring up again. If data is just crawling, move 10m in any direction and it will likely improve.
I'm sure the bordello is keeping track. Visit information can be worth a pile of gold bars this high in the right circumstances such as in Washington, DC. Politicians screw everybody at once during their day job and then get more individual after hours.
I've always seen biometric authentication as a lazy way to access your device. Ease of access is the reciprocal of security. The other downside is if you die or are in hospital, nobody else can get into your device such as a spouse, close friend or family member via a sealed envelope you have left with codes inside for that purpose.
The one thing I suggested before was to have a facial recognition system where you get access if both eyes are open and your device wipes itself if you have one eye closed. You could even have it set to only wipe a certain folder leaving your more mundane data in place to make it appear you have complied fully with a police/court request. Fingerprints could be the same way. Use your middle finger for normal access and your index finger for access that gets rid of incriminating folders since using an index finger is most common, it won't look odd if you do it that way. The best thing is to just not put things on your phone that will get you in trouble. The filth could walk up behind you while you are buried neck deep in you device and just snatch it from you while it's unlocked and keep it active manually or through one of their clever little devices.
The younger employee isn't likely to stick around for 30-40 years where the older one might be there the 5-10. What happens is the young employee gets the training and a certification and can use it to get a 10% pay rise by taking a job someplace else?
Except you get 3x the possibility of a sexual harassment suit. More possibility that confidential information will be leaked. More office space required, more bathrooms, parking spaces, holidays to schedule, training....... The $30k employees are also going to jump ship for $31k where the $200k employee has probably topped out in their role and isn't as likely to be offered significantly more money to take a job elsewhere. The more expensive employee probably owns their own home too and moving is a pain. They've had years to amass tons more junk where a younger pup might only have a few pieces of Ikea furniture and a couple of suitcases of clothes.
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