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Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Hackable Car?

EndlessNameless Look for Active Enthusiast Communities (182 comments)

Since cars have little security and minimal documentation, being the most hackable is simply the result of having a large enough group of people reverse engineering it.

The Nissan 350Z/370Z, Mitsubishi EVO/Lancer/Eclipse, and Subaru WRX/BRZ/Impreza are the standouts as far as being affordable for a hobby endeavour. Mercedes vehicles are also fairly well-explored.

Related models such as the Infiniti G/Q series (premium 350Z/370Z) inherit most of the same benefits from their mainstream brethren, and pretty much all Subaru cars have a decent aftermarket parts and mod community.

yesterday
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Nielsen Will Start Tracking Netflix and Amazon Video

EndlessNameless Re:What about SSL? (55 comments)

If they were going to include an audio form of a watermark, they could make it so subtle as to be undetectable.

With spread spectrum watermarking, you wouldn't be able to hear it, and only someone with the original pseudonoise sequence would be able to detect it. This provides the benefit of being practically impossible for would-be pirates to detect and remove---in addition to maintaining the quality of the original recording.

If they are using audible tones as a tracking mechanism, they are, quite frankly, so far behind the state of the art that it's laughable.

2 days ago
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Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

EndlessNameless Re:This isn't new (326 comments)

That is true, but it ignores the important half of the picture.

Solid state drives do not write to individual LBAs or sectors. They write to pages, which consist of multiple sectors.

E.g.: If page 1 contains sectors 1-8, and you want write to sector 3, then it has to read sectors 1-2 and 4-8. After doing that, the drive will write the updated contents of sectors 1-8 to page 1 using whichever flash cells it deems appropriate.

It could use the same flash cells, or it could remap those LBAs to cells which have not been used as much (aka, wear leveling). Note that most HDDs present 4K sectors, while newer SSDs use 2M pages---this means the sectors:page ratio is actually 512:1 for most drives.

The drive does not understand deleted files; that is a function of the file system. The drive firmware only knows that those sectors contain data, and so that data will be preserved during future writes. This is the cause of write amplification, which TRIM reduces in order to extend the usable life of the drive.

The TRIM command is the only way to free those LBAs so that the drive will not reread and rewrite them every time it needs to update other sectors in the same page.

The performance impact of TRIM is huge once all pages have been written. In normal desktop scenarios, it might not be noticeable because the SSD will still be immensely faster than a mechanical drive. But in an enterprise environment where SSDs are used for tiered storage or cached writes because you need all the I/O you can get, disabling TRIM could bring down the whole virtual infrastructure.

3 days ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

EndlessNameless Re:It helps to actually use the thing. (296 comments)

They use generic PC parts the same as the rest of the industry. Sometimes the same exact quirks exist between Apple's and Dells. They are impacted by the same bad engineering choices.

There will be cases of overlap when vendors choose hardware from the same pool of suppliers.

Still, Apple tends to be better than an average PC laptop. I believe this is due, in part, to their decision to focus on refining premium laptops rather than developing additional products in the budget segment.

IPS panels with reasonable-to-excellent resolution for their size, solid multitouch touchpads, good-to-excellent battery life, and the MagSafe connector are standard across the line. All of these things are desirable to virtually anyone, but they do inflate the price.

The trade-offs are more hit-and-miss: limited product selection, upgrade limitations, basically one industrial design for the entire product line, somewhat difficult repairs, no high-end gaming/CAD options.

Non-techy people won't care about most of those since they won't upgrade or repair it themselves, and CPU/RAM/GPU specs aren't critical for office and media applications. They can happily pick out whatever looks and feels best, be it Sony, Dell, Apple, Lenovo etc.

More technical workers actually have to consider the trade-offs more closely.

Apple is certainly not the only company to build an interesting piece of premium hardware. They are, however, one of the few to maintain a premium product line consistently. E.g., Sony had a great line of executive laptops for about 3 years or so, and then it disappeared.

I think the tradition of premium placement and the corresponding tendency to avoid bargain-basement hardware is where the high-quality comment comes from.

about a month ago
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FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

EndlessNameless Re:LKML response (572 comments)

The vendor ID is assigned by the PCI SIIG pursuant to their own registration rules. The vendor ID underlies a variety of PnP functionality, dating back to the original PCI interface. USB, PCIe, and a few other standards jumped on the bandwagon.

The clones who used FTDI's identifier are violating the standard.

I think FTDI is perfectly justified in stripping their identifier from third-party hardware.

The other manufacturers didn't want to develop, validate, and support their own drivers. This means FTDI incurs greater costs in bringing its product to market, but it also means FTDI has control of the software interface to their equipment (in a Windows environment). They have only themselves to blame, and they get no sympathy from me.

about a month ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

EndlessNameless Re:What a wonderful article (296 comments)

Second, hardware quality starts to fall through the floor on the PC side. The drop off in sales after 2000 had PC manufacturers cutting R&D, cutting parts quality and going into a spiral of chasing each other to the bottom in terms of build quality. The public had broadly realized this, while liking the lower prices. Apple's quality differences became well known.

This is what did it for me. I dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows 7, so the "premium" Apple software meant nothing to me---I touched OS X just long enough to snag the Boot Camp drivers for the Windows side.

I want an actual, workable touchpad in a well-built laptop with a good display.

The Apple touchpad (Synaptics hardware) works better in Windows than most competing laptops which only need to support one OS. I don't know if this is due to better software or hardware without really digging into it. I don't care because it just works.

And how many laptops go out due to the AC adapter plug or jack being damaged? I'm sure Apple has some patents on the MagSafe connector, but every other manufacturer has gone over a decade without designing similar functionality around it. I worked at a service depot in college, and nearly 1/3 of laptops that came in with a "no boot / no power" complaint were due to this. Seriously, spend a little money to address the most common failure mode.

I disagree with the comment regarding software selection, but that may come down to usage. I do work and light gaming on the laptop---very little web or media. There was so little software of interest to me that I had no use at all for OS X.

about a month ago
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FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

EndlessNameless Not Even Mad (572 comments)

The makers of counterfeit chips are in the wrong here, not FTDI. They used FTDI's PCI vendor ID (presumably without authorization).

Everyone who had a bricked chip should go to the manufacturer and demand a replacement or a firmware flash. Maybe then those guys would use their own device identifiers and supply their own drivers.

But most people are probably just cutting corners to get something cheap. And then they blame everyone else for their problems.

Bottom line: This driver would never install on a system with a counterfeit chip if the vendor did not use FTDI's identifier. There is a standard, and it was violated by each and every knock-off chip that bricked.

Maybe FTDI deserves some heat for sticking it to their non-customers, but I have little sympathy for anyone in this snafu.

about a month ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

EndlessNameless Humanity and Humanities (553 comments)

Judging information from multiple sources, assessing credibility, analyzing arguments for validity and assumptions... these are all basic components of a liberal arts education.

Maybe we should actually focus on producing literate and critical students in grade school and high school instead of fanatically pursuing standardized tests, STEM programs, and sports. (Yes, I lumped STEM in there knowing I'm on a technology site.)

Standardized tests are a poor proxy for what we want, which is inventive, thoughtful, and productive adults. Universities, trade schools, and employers are picking up high school graduates---and surprise, they are complaining of similar deficits.

People who will succeed in STEM fields need more opportunity than guidance. All of the best people I've seen were largely passionate and self-taught. The rest just followed the money---and people who follow the money will push themselves to that level regardless. Mentoring and hobbyist groups exist outside of school, which is generally not true for basic academic instruction.

Sports provide some benefits in terms of physical health, socialization, and team work---but most places spend significant funds on sports equipment and facilities while actual academic infrastructure is left to crumble or slide into obsolescence.

On top of the misplaced focus, we have a serious political obstacle. The whole No Child Left Behind initiative was moronic from the beginning. Practically zero educators approved of the idea, yet it became law anyway.

On top of reinforcing the primacy of standardized test results, we are now funding institutions absent serious investigation into where funds are needed vs where they are being squandered. A "bad" school may be getting poor scores due to poor administration and wasteful spending, or it may have a population which demands more work---some schools must provide more remedial education, mental health treatment, behavioral discipline, etc than others.

about a month ago
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Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

EndlessNameless Re:Obvious (151 comments)

Zero? No, that is incorrect---both in theory and in the normal conversational context.

Did you read your own links?

Per Landauer's principle, it takes a small amount of energy. In that same article, it states that modern computer consume millions of times the theoretical minimum. So, technically, the energy requirement is non-zero, and practically it can be quite high.

The limits of computation have a great deal to do with energy, as any given computation must occur on some physical medium, and that medium consumes energy while operating. It is extremely myopic to claim that energy has nothing to do with the limit of computation.

IBM, Intel, and the other guys have all done a lot of work to reduce the energy required for computation. The number of operations per watt has skyrocketed in my lifetime---and can continue to do so at the current rate for quite some time. Energy consumption and thermal constraints limit computational capacity at every level, and to claim otherwise is simply ignorant or disingenuous.

about 3 months ago
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MIT Researchers Create Platform To Build Secure Web Apps That Never Leak Data

EndlessNameless Re:How can you search data (90 comments)

I think you don't understand what searchable encryption is. It means you can search the data without decrypting it. Once you find the records you need, you decrypt them.

The only data that is ever decrypted is the actual data that you want.

If you're like me, you probably had a brief moment of "OMG, how is that even possible?" when you first grasped it. And that is why it is an expensive software package for those who need it.

about 8 months ago
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Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

EndlessNameless Re:Answer is totally obvious - content providers (490 comments)

Because renting physical discs is well-established legally and has a pre-existing distribution model.

Note that they didn't want that either. The studios tried lawsuits and then lobbying to stop Betamax and VHS, the analog predecessors of DVD and Blu-ray.

The movie industry is quite happy with a pay-per-view model. Most content becomes available as paid video-on-demand before it is available on Netflix or cable television.

If Netflix streaming were pay-per-view rather than a smaller monthly subscription, they would probably be happier. But a lot of people wouldn't be.

The movie industry is run by nitwits that still think scarcity and exclusivity are relevant to informational goods.

about 8 months ago
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Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

EndlessNameless Re:Answer is totally obvious - content providers (490 comments)

To make the old DVDs available online someone would have to invest the time to shift them into digital format.

What?

If it's on a DVD, it's already digital and encoded as an MPG2 stream. Converting MPG2 into another format is simple and available on almost every video editing app in existence.

The idea that old DVDs need to be shifted into a digital format is absurd---they are already digital. And transcoding them into a streaming format is not difficult. There are free tools that do it, and do it well.

If anything, it is the negotiation for distribution rights that would be the real issue. Because delivering DVD-quality video is trivial. It takes longer to install and configure Apache than it does to transcode a two-hour movie.

about 8 months ago
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Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested For Leaking Windows 8

EndlessNameless Re:Stealing? (197 comments)

> They have an obligation to do what the corporation was intended to do.

And when a corporation is founded as a commercial entity, its express purpose is profit. The corporate charter may espouse numerous other principles, but a commercial business is legally a profit-generating endeavor---everything else is window dressing.

Henry Ford wanted to lower the price of automobiles and employ more workers in order to bring the benefits of industrialization to all people in exchange for lower profits---and the court told him he could not.

In the US, the board of directors has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. That duty is ensuring profit, either through dividends or stock valuations. They have no conflicting fiduciary duties to the general public or human welfare.

> Which may not involve making money at all.

I laughed out loud. If we're talking about publicly-traded corporations in the US---and in the case of Microsoft, we are---you are absolutely wrong.

about 8 months ago
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Microsoft Dumping License Fees For Windows Phone?

EndlessNameless Windows Store (125 comments)

If they get a cut of all the app purchases, this is an obvious win-win. Manufacturers get cheaper devices to the market, and Microsoft increase its user base.

I can't speak for everyone, but I have spent more on apps than the price of my phone over its lifetime. (The unsubsidized price, at that.)

about 8 months ago
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Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

EndlessNameless Re:Lifers? (597 comments)

If it applies only to full-time students, you have to remain full-time. This limits your job opportunities. Also, higher level graduate studies become rather selective. The number of people who qualify for graduate, post-grad, and post-doc *combined* is a minute fraction of the student population.

Also, post-grads are often working as research assistants or teaching assistants---while receiving a small stipend at most. I'd consider this enough of a public good to not worry about it. Between the small population and the value of the work, I wouldn't advocate a change unless someone finds a way to really abuse it.

I support the general idea. I am happy to pay the tax provided the actual law has no major problems. That is a bigger concern to me---what will the idiots in Congress do with this idea?

about 9 months ago
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Gnome 3.12 Delayed To Sync With Wayland Release

EndlessNameless Re:Gnome 3 - Windows 8 for Linux (204 comments)

For Windows 8, if you're referring to the new Metro/Modern UI as the new desktop, the lack of Win32 compatibility was not a mistake. There is a huge security shift moving to Metro/Modern.

They finally implemented a secured app ecosystem. Instead of granting installers blanket admin privileges, they require permissions manifests that are enforced by the local security system. This makes some traditional trojans (like keyloggers) impossible without privilege escalation exploits. Their read/write privileges are also restricted unless their manifests request more.

This is similar to how Android presents the user with a list of permissions for each new application (or for an update, if that particular update includes new permissions).

While some apps can never move to Metro/Modern, any non-technical user will have better security with Metro/Modern apps. Personally, I use none of those apps on the one Windows 8 system I have---but I would prefer it if my parents switched. I believe Metro/Modern is useless for Slashdot-level users and an important step for everyone else. Given a few iterations, it could knock down the wall between security and usability.

about 10 months ago
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Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)

EndlessNameless Re:The Problem (332 comments)

This arbitrary fabrication precisely mirrors how Bitcoin started. There will eventually be 21,000,000 in existence. That number was completely arbitrary, as was the original degree of subdivision and nomenclature. The proposed subdivision and nomenclature is equally arbitrary yet functionally equivalent. The method by which Bitcoins are transferred and verified would essentially remain the same.

If there are too many Bitcoins lost (e.g., in the secured wallets of dead people), then further dividing Bitcoins into smaller fractions will have little effect besides slightly increasing liquidity. Any psychological effect would come from people misunderstanding the nature of the system.

If this hypothetical scenario is worrisome to you, you should already be worried about the "fabricated" nature of Bitcoin. Because, fundamentally, nothing changes with OP's proposal.

about 10 months ago
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Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)

EndlessNameless Re:Beware of "We" (332 comments)

living paycheck-to-paycheck need a currency whose value doesn't decay while stored in cash/checking.

Nice try, but this is a red herring.

If you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, your money doesn't sit around long enough for inflation to have a meaningful effect.

Middle-class retirement planning may be affected, but there are already a number of options for those investments. (Granted, they aren't as nice as the upper class options.)

Those of us in the middle class need something that won't fall victim to another anti-Wikileaks financial blockade.

I think this is your real concern. Expand and clarify on it however you see fit, but leave the other garbage out.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Convince an ISP To Bury Cable In Your Neighborhood?

EndlessNameless Re:The basics... (324 comments)

Fiber is provider-agnostic. Which electrical wiring to run? Most phone companies provide service over twisted pair to the house, and most cable companies use coax. Fiber is essentially a universal medium, and the telco will provide (or spec out) compatible equipment to be installed in the home.

Fiber is the future. Most major telcos have some sort of next-gen internet offering based on fiber. And everyone's fiber service is better than their copper/coax service. Since most of the cost is digging up and filling back in, you might as well spend a little extra to make it worthwhile. There is no reason to tear up the entire neighborhood just to install some obsolete technology.

Fiber is easy. In the past, running and splicing (aka, fusing) fiber was very difficult and therefore expensive compared to copper/coax. This is no longer the case. Fiber has outgrown its early-adopter and premium-price taxes for the most part. Experienced techs are now commonplace. You no longer need a huge box mounted on a pickup truck with a generator to splice fiber---there are handheld units. The tech has matured.

Running copper/coax now is like building a cobblestone road. You certainly could do it, and it would essentially work. But this is not something you should do anymore unless there is a specific requirement to do so.

about 10 months ago
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China's Government Unveils 'China Operating System' To Great Skepticism

EndlessNameless Re:before you go there (223 comments)

I trust the chinese a lot more than the americans at this point, never heard of the chinese secretly going into other countries to get a foreign national. china at least keeps their misdeeds mostly in china and bordering countries

Idiot.

about 10 months ago

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