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How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

Obfuscant Re:How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster (59 comments)

But the companies who produce these things are so criminally incompetent (and greedy) that they don't give two shits about security. They don't even give one shit about security.

It isn't criminal, and it isn't incompetence. It is because the people who want to buy the devices don't care about security. They want to do what they want to do.

I want to listen to online radio stations on my cell phone. AM1710, Antioch Radio, in particular. I started to download some app called "TuneIn" and was shown the list of privileges it wanted. I was flabbergasted. Location, identity, contacts, photos. Why does a streaming audio app need access to my location? Why does it need access to my contacts? (So I can see if any of my friends are using TuneIn and what they're listening to, which means they can see if I'm using it and what I'm listening to.) And this app has 50,000,000 (fifty MILLION) downloads. Apparently, people want to be able to see what their friends listen to and don't care if others see what they are doing. Thus also Facebook.

Don't blame the companies who make the stuff people want for making stuff people want.

yesterday
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How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

Obfuscant Re:Serval Mesh Networking for Android (59 comments)

Very cheap insurance to make sure people have these sorts of devices for an emergency, which these days would not cost much more than a decent US$100 "weather radio"

And yet people won't buy simple FRS radios that cost much less and allow open communications in an emergency. Your description of Serval is interesting, but it is one of the last things you want in a real emergency. During an emergency, phones are good when there is a known phone number to call for help, or for individual communications between pre-arranged parties. That's why there is '911' or '999' or whatever it is in your country. Phones lack something called "interoperability". If you don't know the other guy's number, you ain't talking to him.

Radio, however, allows anyone to talk to anyone else with a simple "I need help" as a call. That's if you don't layer on all kinds of interfering crap like trunking and talkgroups and digital network access codes (NAC) and things designed to KEEP people from talking to each other instead of helping them do it.

That's why I program my emergency services radio with no CTCSS on receive, and put 0xFE (IIRC) as the NAC for 25 on at least one channel so I can at least hear everyone else if I need to. And this interoperability lesson is something the fire service learned in some large California fires, and is why there are a number of federally assigned interoperability channels authorized for anyone in one organization who needs to talk to someone in another. Every public service radio is supposed to have those channels, but many of them still don't even after a decade or more of existence.

yesterday
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How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

Obfuscant Re:Unintended Consequences much? (59 comments)

I mean, I know that it's shocking to think that a technology could be used for something other than the intended purpose, but all I can think of is - We'll be spending most our lives living in a hackers paradise (The Weird Al one, not Coolio)

What's a "Coolio"?

I'm reading these comments wondering, we have an issue with NSA being able to intercept cell calls and various countries supporting cyber attacks against various things today, and we're looking forward to a day when there is ubiquitous, automated, hidden-to-the-user networking connecting and controlling every significant device we bring into our homes and which is configurable by external command to create those networks? That makes our refrigerator a router for emergency messages from one of our next door neighbors out to someone somewhere through another neighbor's air conditioner? And some people here seem to be welcoming our new IoT overlords?

You've got to be joking.

yesterday
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How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

Obfuscant Re:Packet radio (59 comments)

You really have no clue at all.

The mesh network is self assembling and zero maintenance.

Mesh networks are neither self-assembling nor zero maintenance. You really think that people are going to accept a "self-assembling" network that extends anywhere past their own homes into those homes? My God, man, we have people who are opposing wireless gas and electric meters in a neighboring city because they can be used to remotely turn service off, they emit dangerous radio waves, and they will "self-assemble" into a mesh that can be used to spy on people. (And "self" is in scare quotes because they assemble only because the electric utility programs them to, and the electric utility will maintain them.)

But the mesh network skips all that which means your volunteers are doing something effective, not wasting their time on playing radio amateur.

The next time your county infrastructure is taken out by, say, an ice storm, and the only way you can get information into and out of that county is by amateur radio, why don't you walk up to someone providing that service and let them know you think they are just "playing amateur radio", ok? Or ahead of time, make sure you let everyone know that those people who are volunteering their time training to provide emergency communications for your benefit are just "playing". You'll be the hit of the party.

We can afford to allocate a band for "Aiee! Help!" (COSPAS SARSAT) but we can't afford to do much housekeeping by satellite.

Fascinating idea. So that satellite dish we have on our mobile command center vehicle should be used only for "Help" if we get stuck, but we shouldn't use it for "housekeeping" things. We shouldn't, say, pull the vehicle up next to a county building, pop the dish up, run a few phone lines, and supply telephone service to manage a flood to the people who need to do housekeeping things like keeping track of water levels or doctors who need to get to the hospital.

You truly have a lack of clue when it comes to what can and will be done in a disaster, and what will be useful and what won't.

yesterday
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Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

Obfuscant Re:And here I was (252 comments)

So you'd rather lose power in wires instead?

Who cares about the wires when you're going to dissipate at least 160W from that 10 ohm resistor in series with the input, and have a 40V drop to go with it?

And explain again how you keep an input ripple of less than 3% when you will be dropping anywhere from 0 (no load) to 40 (full load) volts on that 450V input?

yesterday
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Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

Obfuscant Re:Why? (252 comments)

Oh, absolutely yes in data centers. But not in houses.

If this is intended for houses, then you certainly have sufficient space for a shoebox or larger sized inverter. I have several of them in my house -- they're called a UPS, and a couple of them are 1.5kW. I haven't spent the money or they could be larger.

This challenge turns out to be to convert 450DC into 240VAC true-sine-wave. The intent seems to be to waste time converting DC into AC so it can be converted back into the DC needed to run the electronics. A lot of the items shown in the challenge don't inherently need AC, and some of them only need AC because they were built with AC motors in them. The laptops, TVs, monitors, desk lamps, toasters, automobile, radios, coffee makers -- all can be trivially designed to use AC or DC. (In fact, the very first radios sold in the US were AC/DC. That's because the AC/DC power wars weren't over yet.)

And even the excuse that converting from one DC voltage to another is harder than AC conversions is long gone. There are so many DC/DC converters in use today that nobody can seriously argue that those conversions are anything but trivial. When all we had were linear regulators it was inefficient to lower the voltage and hard to increase it, but with switching buck and boost regulators now ubiquitous that concern is moot.

So. Other than "it is cool", I still ask "why"? This size of device would be required for portable use, perhaps in poorly developed areas, but who is going to be carrying 450DC with them and need 240AC true-sine-wave to power the microwave in their pocket?

2 days ago
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Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

Obfuscant Re:Why? (252 comments)

1. Small size and small heat output mean efficiency.

No. Efficiency in conversion translates to efficiency. You can have a box the size of a car that is is 95% efficient. And high efficiency means low heat output, not the other way around. I can build an inverter that is 0% efficient and remains at room temperature. I usually throw them out when the efficiency drops like that.

2. KW efficiency will likely translate directly to small scale device efficiency.

There are already very efficient small scale devices.

3. If its small enough, new ways of moving power could be theoretically created.

Inverters don't move power, they convert it from one form to another. In this case, it is converting 450VDC to 240 AC true-sine-wave. It's already dealing with only "the last mile".

This reminds me of the packaging wars of yore. "why would you want the packaging to be lighter and smaller and cheaper?"

This is nothing of the sort. "Lighter smaller cheaper" packaging has effects in resource use in production and shipping and sales of every item in that packaging. Having a tiny inverter does not. There was never a "packaging war".

2 days ago
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How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

Obfuscant Re:Mission creep. (285 comments)

My "new" (new to me) Galaxy Tab3 has a "disable background data" option (buried somewhere I've forgotten now) to stop continuous data leaks. And when you turn that option on, there is a continuous notification that background data has been disabled and "touch here to re-enable".

Thanks. I turned it off, stop telling me to turn it back on.

2 days ago
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UK Users Overwhelmingly Spurn Broadband Filters

Obfuscant Re:More inconvienient than the average filter. (113 comments)

1) I said "educational non-profit" - do you think there's a reason I used these two words together?

Because you think that non-profit schools have some special rights when it comes to "fair use" that students at commercial schools do not? And you're repeating this because you missed the fact that I wasn't specifically referring to a for-profit college use, thus it applies to non-profit just as much as for-profit? The fact is, I cannot simply duplicate college (non-profit educational use) textbooks and hand them out to my students and claim "fair use".

2) I'm well aware that there are other considerations for fair use (which is why linked to the page), one of them being impact on the market value of a work.

Another being whether the work is being used in its entirety; and/or for review or criticism. Copying an image verbatim as an illustration for a school paper fails these "fair use" criteria.

You can't honestly claim that a kid taking an image from google in order to use in their class work violates this.

I can and I do, because it does. I've already said why. The link you provided says there are FOUR considerations, and all of them must be met. If you are copying someone else's work into your schoolwork 1) in its entirety and 2) without the purpose of review or criticism of that content, you are outside the scope of fair use. And if you did it in a paper I ever graded, you better provide a cite for the source or I'll see that as a claim that it is your work, just as copying text from Wikipedia into your paper needs a cite or it would be plagiarism.

That doesn't mean that I think there is any purpose to be gained from suing those students who do it. A use can violate "fair use" and not be worth legal action.

but are you seriously arguing for throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

I don't see where I've mentioned any "throwing" of anything, only that your "educational non-profit" criterion is insufficient to determine "fair use", and I provided a trivial example to that demonstrates that fact.

(i.e. for a few asshats we'll just destroy the value of the resource for everybody)

I'm sorry, but you've lost me here. Where did I say ANYTHING like that? Did I say we should shut down Google (or Wikipedia, or ...) because some people violate fair use with the material they find there? Can you provide even one glimmer of a quote from me that says this?

2 days ago
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Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

Obfuscant Why? (252 comments)

One question: why?

If you're running devices that need a kW you're already at a reasonable size for your device, and you can build a lot of cheap, larger inverters for what it would cost to build this small one.

You could also probably build the powered devices to run off 12V for less than what this inverter would cost.

Is what is keeping AC power from the hinterlands this is intended to serve really the size of the inverter, or is it more likely the cost?

2 days ago
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UK Users Overwhelmingly Spurn Broadband Filters

Obfuscant Re:More inconvienient than the average filter. (113 comments)

Last I checked, there's that thing called fair use that actually allows educational non-profit use of copyrighted works, so you can get off your moral high horse.

No. Fair use considerations include whether the use was for an educational purpose, but "educational purpose" is not sufficient to show fair use. I cannot copy, for example, a college textbook in its entirety and hand it out to my students because even though it is an "educational purpose", it does not meet the other criteria for fair use. Two criteria that this would fail would be the "excerpts" and "for critical review". Thus, I could copy a page of a textbook in a graphics arts class for the purpose of commenting on the formatting and layout style, but copying a book on graphics arts and using it as a text would not be "fair use".

Copying an image in its entirety for the purpose of using it as content in my own work would not be "fair use".

2 days ago
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Verizon Boosts FiOS Uploads To Match Downloads

Obfuscant Re:No More Limited Upload Globally (230 comments)

Note that I most certainly did not say that those who disagree with me are probably brain-dead. I said that if the examples I gave weren't enough to elucidate my point that:

You were trying to drive into me your point that I hadn't said anything to the contrary about. Yes, calling people "brain-dead" because they don't accept your point is insulting and non-productive.

I asserted that symmetric bandwidth was important to our society in a variety of ways,

In response to a comment that didn't say otherwise.

Are you feeling a bit stressed today?

You cannot drop the insulting attitude even after it is pointed out to you and you pretend that you didn't mean it in the first place.

2 days ago
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Verizon Boosts FiOS Uploads To Match Downloads

Obfuscant Re:No More Limited Upload Globally (230 comments)

When I can serve up my documentary on government malfeasance and allow dozens, if not hundreds of other people to pull my content easily -- and those folks can then host it for tens or hundreds of thousands more people, it becomes much harder for the "big lie" to succeed.

Then you would not have agreed to a service that prohibits you from running a server, which every residential service I've seen does. However, the point remains, charging me extra for service I don't need so you can have what you claim is critical to your right to free speech doesn't seem to be fair at all.

I could go on, but if you don't get the idea by now, you're probably brain-dead.

I get the idea that you become insulting when someone doesn't value symmetric data service as much as you do. Was there another point, because if there was your insulting tone did a good job of masking it.

Yes, I know why some people would like symmetric bandwidth, and you might have noticed that I didn't say there was no value to it. If you can't grasp that not everyone values this and not everyone would find it important to pay extra for their service so you could put your opinion online, then I'd suggest you look in the mirror for the 'brain dead' one.

I'd also point out that this right here is one of those good examples of where money is required for effective free speech. You could get a dialup line, or ADSL, but you know that your voice would not be heard. It costs money for high speed internet.

3 days ago
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How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

Obfuscant Re:Mission creep. (285 comments)

if you aren't on Android which does everything it can to keep you tethered to Google.

-1 flamebait.

I have several Android devices. Every one of them works just fine without a connection to Google. Even for Play Books, I've pinned each of them onto the device (translation: downloaded) so there is no issue with being connected.

The only connection issue I've come across is for the "free app of the day" apps from Amazon, where many of them want to check in with Amazon for authorization every month or so. That's created a situation where I needed an app "offline" and couldn't use it. I've learned to go online and start up any app that I want to make sure will be available when I'm offline, or go without. The latter is pretty easy.

So, "does everything it can to keep you tethered to Google" really means "doesn't do very much", and Amazon is by far a worse offender in that area than Google.

3 days ago
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Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

Obfuscant Re:...The hell? (289 comments)

I think his point is that e theoretical free-market that serves the consumer's every need is a myth,

Of course such a free market is a myth, and nobody who understands what "free market" means would think so. "Every need"? Of course not. "Every need that can be financially supported".

"Free market" first requires a market. Mass markets/low cost cannot be supported in infinite variety. "Every need" is a niche market served by smaller companies who focus on that, and charge significantly more. That's why there are buses and cabs; doormen and concierges; delivery boys and butlers; waiters and maitre'd.

If you want to buy the lowest level phone and expect the "free market" to cater your every whim, well, that's not going to happen. Most people understand that higher levels of product cost more and updates may actually cost money.

But what I was replying to was, specifically, his claim that "and consumers will reward the company by paying additional dollars for the improvement", which is patently absurd in this context. He is the proof of that absurdity -- he deliberately bought the cheapest phone he could and is complaining because it doesn't meet his "every need". As a consumer, he chose NOT to reward a competitor who met his needs, because his immediate and pressing need was "doesn't cost more than I want to pay".

3 days ago
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Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

Obfuscant Re:...The hell? (289 comments)

Actually that's a lie, maybe sometimes he does have something interesting to say,

Citation required.

I made the mistake of reading through this, mostly because I was at work, eating lunch, and bored. Then I got to this gem:

More specifically, in a theoretical free market, any product improvement that costs only a small amount compared to the benefit it brings to consumers, should be implemented (and consumers will reward the company by paying additional dollars for the improvement, in proportion to the benefit it brings them).

Why yes, Bennett, so many people would be happy to pay for an update to the spelling correction software in their phone. The phone manufacturer would make a nice amount of money from all the "additional dollars" that such updates would bring in. And just as soon as a phone manufacturer followed your "free market" advice and tried charging for a bug-fix update, people like you would be screaming how this company should fix it for free because it was a bug and you've already paid for working software.

You have no clue at all, do you?

3 days ago
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Verizon Boosts FiOS Uploads To Match Downloads

Obfuscant Re:No More Limited Upload Globally (230 comments)

I hope all Internet service company in the world to adopt this fair service to all their customers. No more upload limit :)

"Fair" is a very subjective word. Who says it is fair to have everyone paying for service that they wont' use? Most people don't need the same upstream speed as they need down. Not even those who are using Netflix or downloading large Linux distributions need the same up as down. Only those sending out large amounts of data will see any difference, and that's only if the transmission is monitored in real-time and not just a background task.

As someone else pointed out, this change will make very little difference in the load imbalance at the peering points since most people aren't hitting an upload limit to start with.

3 days ago
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FTC To Trap Robocallers With Open Source Software

Obfuscant Re:Really? (125 comments)

Are you sure about that? Because I still get calls from Rachel and friends several times per day.

FTFY. It is important that I contact her, but she never leaves a number. Press 3 to tell them they've reached a valid number and try again. And they've started using forged numbers for caller id that are just a few digits off my own number.

about a week ago
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The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Obfuscant Re:How much did we spend per person? (364 comments)

Don't be stupid.

You're the one who thinks he should get all his money back because they didn't spend it on you, not me. Who's the stupid one?

I'm just pointing out that "it can't be stealing if they take it from me and give it to other people" isn't a very smart statement. Or, I guess, "how can it be stealing if it went to the citizens"? Or whatever.

about a week ago
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The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Obfuscant Re:How much did we spend per person? (364 comments)

No, taxation is more like you give me $69,900 and I give you and all your neighbors each a pile of gravel in your driveways. You don't get to tell me what I spend your money on, and I don't care that you would have bought a Tesla. I don't even care if you don't want what you get in return. Some of your neighbors needed a pile of gravel, so that's what I spent your money on.

Unfortunately, they didn't make enough money this year to pay taxes, so there is nothing from them to spend on stuff you want.

But I'll take your answer as yes, you'd call the cops because I was, indeed, stealing from you, despite the final destination of what I took from you.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Comcast encrypting basic digital cable

Obfuscant Obfuscant writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Obfuscant (592200) writes "Comcast of Oregon, the friendly cable company that once allowed people with ClearQAM-equipped TVs to eavesdrop on other people's On-Demand programs, has decided to encrypt even the Digital Starter channels it was carrying in the clear. These are the channels that anyone paying for digital service gets. The reason: to prevent signal theft.

They're claiming that they cannot simply trap out the digital channels from those getting the analog Basic service, even though the digital goodies start way up at channel 64 and the analog tops out at 30. "Traps don't work", according to customer service. (Someone please explain why RF traps care what modulation is on the frequencies they filter out, or how a trap that makes analog signals undetectable will provide a viewable digital signal when even an unfiltered digital signal drops out on a regular basis.) This is the same cable company that used to be able to trap out channels 31 and above if you didn't have Expanded Basic.

They point the finger at the program providers — like ESPN and SyFy. "It's a contractual requirement" for people who are paying for the programs to be prevented from using their own DVRs to record them for later use. "Of course we'll rent you a Comcast DVR..."

Perhaps it's time to dust of those old copies of the Cable Consumer Protection Act of 1992, which deals specifically with this issue."

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