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The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

Smerta Embedded Systems - new?!?! (66 comments)

It's good to know embedded systems are new-ish technology!

Really makes me feel good about the implantable cardiac defibrillators, hard disk drives, engine control units, CNC machines, remote weather stations, mobile phones (baseband), insulin pumps, etc. that I've worked on for the last 20+ years.

A home might have 3-5 desktop/laptop processors in it, while that car on the driveway probably has at least 20, maybe 50, processors in it.

Embedded systems, and the engineers who design the hardware, software, firmware, etc. are kind of like air - all around you, and you don't really notice them, but you sure would if they disappeared.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a soapbox to step down from, and a lawn in need of protection from young whipper-snappers.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Is Non-USB Flash Direct From China Safe?

Smerta Re: There will be. (178 comments)

Absolutely correct.

Remember that kerfuffle a couple weeks ago about FTDI bricking products that were using counterfeit FTDI USB-serial chips? Some of the product designers were unknowingly using counterfeit chips bought from companies we've all heard of (no, not Alibaba or Ebay...)

about two weeks ago

AT&T Won't Do In-Flight Wi-Fi After All

Smerta LTE speed limit (35 comments)

I don't know exactly how this would have worked anyway.

It's been a while since I worked on LTE (call processing, not RF or hardware or even baseband), but I thought that with UTRAN there was a 350 km/h "speed limit" (perhaps up to 500 km/h under certain circumstances) with motion relative to the base station.

(Now that I spent 5 seconds thinking about it, I suppose the sine of the angle (from base station to aircraft, relative to vertical) would reduce the velocity that the plane was moving away from the base station... I think?)

I'm sure there are many other effects such as transmit power, interference, fading & multipath, etc. Sheesh I'm getting rusty...

about two weeks ago

Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months

Smerta Re:This just proves... (173 comments)

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but basically in the same breath, you said that you're not a programmer, yet you judge programming to be a trade like plumbing.

I can't reconcile those two, and I respectfully disagree.

By the way, I totally agree about code riddled with bugs. I work on safety-critical software, and I can assure you, not all software (firmware in my case) is of such low quality. But I'll also concede that the cost and time to develop such software is much longer than your typical slap-happy PHP script running on foo.com's webserver...

about three weeks ago

What People Want From Smart Homes

Smerta Re:Nothing. (209 comments)

When I lived in Germany I saw quite a few of them. Lawns tend to be smaller and flatter than in the U.S. Also, landscaping services are more expensive, in general, over in Europe. Last thing, and unfortunately I'm being serious, the U.S. is pretty litigious, so companies are hesitant to jump into the market.

I think there are about 10 companies or so making robotic mowers. Could be wrong, but I thought you could get a Husqvarna in the U.S. now. They require a wire to be buried along the perimeter of your yard so the 'bot knows when it needs to stop & turn around.

I';ve always wondered what happens if you lose power at home, and the buried wire no longer emits its signal. Probably a battery backup, and you have to tell the 'bot to run no longer than the battery can last.

about three weeks ago

Rosetta Code Study Weighs In On the Programming Language Debate

Smerta Re:C++ = Clear Language Choice. (165 comments)

Sincere question - I've heard that Fortran blows away (or at least beats) C++ for scientific/calculation programming, and considering the 2 languages' history and "raison d'etre", I'm not surprised... but can you lend any insight into what accounts for that, specifically? I mean, if I create arrays or matrices or whatever in C++, and I pay attention to cache effects, etc. it seems like my C++ still can't be as fast when it's compiled down into machine code... I've never seen a good explanation of what's going on under the hood to account for that. Thanks.

about 2 months ago

Indian Mars Mission Has Completed 95% of Its Journey Without a Hitch

Smerta Re:But (117 comments)

the last few feet that count
or is that meters

I see what you did there

about 2 months ago

After Celebrity Photo Leaks, 4chan Introduces DMCA Policy

Smerta Re:Effectiveness (134 comments)

Serious question: Do you know of any instance where the originator of a bogus DMCA takedown request was punished?

From what I understand, the originator can't just search for "Lindsay Lohan" on BitTorrent and Usenet, and fire out a bunch of takedown requests -- the signed/authenticated takedown notice stipulates that they are the owner of the material.

Said another way, if you uploaded a Linux distribution and called it "Rihanna Nudes" or something, and Rihanna's people sent a DMCA takedown notice for this, I think (at least theoretically) they'd be in hot water.

Of course, that's the theory, and that's my question: is there any incentive for content creators to not shotgun-blast out a ton of notices?

about 3 months ago

Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

Smerta Re:Russian Programmer's are Brilliant! (157 comments)

I agree with the sentiment about programming skill, but I think Toyota, not Honda, had the more significant unintended acceleration issues (according to CBS News and NHTSA, as many as 89 deaths).

about 3 months ago

FBI Investigates 'Sophisticated' Cyber Attack On JP Morgan, 4 More US Banks

Smerta Re:Honest question from a non-USian (98 comments)

The FBI is under the Department of Justice, not Treasury.

about 3 months ago

Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

Smerta "We'll just re-flash it" (162 comments)

As an embedded systems (electronics/firmware) engineer, I was going to half-jokingly, half-seriously say, "Well, we'll just send a new firmware update to Curiosity to help with the problem." And then of course as I read the article, that was one of the proposed mitigations:

Changing driving software to reduce the forces experienced by wheels hanging up on pointy rocks. <snip> The rover can sense wheel currents, so it can sense when a wheel is sticking. <snip> By implementing a "smart controller" on the wheel current and allowing wheel rotation rates to vary intelligently in response to sensed conditions, they might be able to mitigate the damage.

I've been developing embedded systems for more than half my life, and I never get bored...

about 3 months ago

Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

Smerta Re:Big Data (181 comments)

I have heard rumors at least twice, from two different people that I trust (sorry for the "cloak and dagger" bullshit) that Hastings has investigated creating an ISP, but that the hurdles and bullshit threshold is just too high. That makes me sad. There is so much opportunity for innovation, so much potential to move away from the shitty 6Mbps "broadband" in most of America, but the Verizons & Comcasts buy their way out of the problem every time. And yes, the government (both parties, I'm looking at you) is complicit.

about 3 months ago

CNN iPhone App Sends iReporters' Passwords In the Clear

Smerta Re:Waiting.... (40 comments)

I think the real issue is that people tend to use the same login info on multiple websites. So even if having access to the victim's CNN profile is no big deal, having access to Clarence's Amazon login credentials is a whole different matter.

about 4 months ago

Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets

Smerta Re:just follow the rules people (229 comments)

A few [states] don't even require you to stop when making a right turn, if the way is clear.

What states are those? I travel around the U.S. *a lot*, and I've never seen this... I'm guessing it's going to be something like Wyoming, North Dakota, etc. (I'm asking sincerely - I think at one time some of those states had no real "upper speed limit" - the law was written to the effect "can't travel faster than the conditions allow" or something like that..)

about 4 months ago

Critical Vulnerabilities In Web-Based Password Managers Found

Smerta Re:KeePass? (114 comments)

I think it's literally called "Elephant" (as in, "an elephant never forgets").

(Honestly, at first I thought you might be thinking of Evernote (apologies!), but then I saw your UID & figured that was very unlikely...)

about 4 months ago

The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

Smerta Re: Died Outside a Tesla (443 comments)

Agreed. And with a Toyota, the car might very well accelerate to 100 MPH, crash and burn all on its own.

about 4 months ago

Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

Smerta Game show (139 comments)

"Cheaper than a New York taxi"... umm, "What is a bar of gold, Alex?"

about 5 months ago



Toyota's Killer Firmware

Smerta Smerta writes  |  1 year,29 days

Smerta (1855348) writes "On Thursday, a jury verdict found Toyota's ECU firmware defective, holding it responsible for a crash in which a passenger was killed and the driver injured. What's significant about this is that this is the first time a jury heard about software defects uncovered by plaintiff's expert witnesses. An interesting summary of the defects discussed at trial is interesting reading, as well the transcript of court testimony. Wonder what the impact will be on self-driving cars?"
Link to Original Source


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