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Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

Smerta "We'll just re-flash it" (120 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...

2 hours ago

Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

Smerta Re:Big Data (142 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.


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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month and a half ago

Amazon Sues After Ex-Worker Takes Google Job

Smerta Re:Non-compete agreements are BS. (272 comments)

OK something here doesn't make sense. The company "shut its doors". Maybe we define things differently, but to me that means filing for dissolution; not Chapter 13, not in hibernate mode - "shut the doors". I've personally been screwed over by a company that owed me a significant sum when they dissolved the company... at that point, you can go pound sand, the corporation is the equivalent of a dead body -- scream at it all you want, nothing's going to happen.

about a month and a half ago

Protesters Launch a 135-Foot Blimp Over the NSA's Utah Data Center

Smerta NSA says... (104 comments)

"Nice blimp ya got there. Sure would be a shame if something happened to it."

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Ensure Creative Commons Compliance At Your Company?

Smerta Re:Just hire the photographer. (64 comments)

We don't even use that. We order CDs full of pictures. I dunno where they come from, I don't care. We own the photos outright and they are good for generalized photos (i.e. some support person with a headset smiling, ready to take your order)

Ummmmm.... you might wanna be careful there. Especially the "dunno where they come from, I don't care." You should.

If some scammer from FooVille fills up a CD with images pulled from the internet, images he/she has no right to re-distribute (copyright assignment), you are exposed as well. Even if you can point to the CD, point to the scammer and say, "Here's the order, this person told me he owned all the rights, blah blah blah", I can assure you that the tenet "ignorance is no excuse" still holds. This would be considered mitigating factors, but you would still be on the hook. Particularly if the original source is Getty Images or the like, they'll go after you on principle alone.

Don't get me wrong, you're trying to do the right thing, and the whole flipping copyright law is buggered. I'm just telling you, you are still seriously exposed. Tread carefully!

about 2 months ago

Overeager Compilers Can Open Security Holes In Your Code

Smerta Functionally correct, but insecure (199 comments)

The classic example of a compiler interfering with intention, opening security holes, is failure to wipe memory.

On a typical embedded system - if there is such a thing (no virtual memory, no paging, no L3 cache, no "secure memory" or vault or whatnot) - you might declare some local (stack-based) storage for plaintext, keys, etc. Then you do your business in the routine, and you return.

The problem is that even though the stack frame has been "destroyed" upon return, the contents of the stack frame are still in memory, they're just not easily accessible. But any college freshman studying computer architecture knows how to get to this memory.

So the routine is modified to wipe the local variables (e.g. array of uint8_t holding a key or whatever...) The problem is that the compiler is smart, and sees that no one reads back from the array after the wiping, so it decides that the observable behavior won't be affected if the wiping operation is elided.

My making these local variables volatile, the compiler will not optimize away the wiping operations.

The point is simply that there are plenty of ways code can be completely "correct" from a functional perspective, but nonetheless terribly insecure. And often the same source code, compiled with different optimization options, has different vulnerabilities.

about a month ago

TrueCrypt Author Claims That Forking Is Impossible

Smerta Re:Is this really genuine? (250 comments)

Matt Green, the cryptographer leading the TC audit effort, had established contact with one or more developers (somehow) over the last year or so.

So, to most of us, the TC developers are still anonymous, but not to everyone...

about 2 months ago

Cockpit Revealed For Bloodhound Supersonic Car

Smerta Re:Should it even be called a "car"? (81 comments)

Ouch... really???

Of course it can't turn at full speed in just 240m. 240m is the distance across the circle (diameter) for the vehicle to "Turn Around" (turning radius 120m.)

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget?

Smerta Re:Salae logic (172 comments)

Yes, but "oscilloscope" != "logic analyzer". And the Logic 16 (I have one) is 5x the OP's stated price range.

I kinda feel like the OP asked where he could find a cheap, sporty little car, and you're telling him he should consider buying a fire truck.

about 2 months ago

Google Releases VirusTotal Uploader For OS X

Smerta No digital signature?!?!? (37 comments)

Wow. Just went over to download the Windows version of the Uploader tool - the installer isn't digitally signed. WTF?!?!?

I'm still shocked that so much software from legitimate companies isn't digitally signed. I do a lot of firmware development, and very few companies' installers are digitally signed (IAR, I'm looking at you). Sheesh. Even a tiny company like Saleae and the main developer of TortoiseSVN ,Stefan Küng, have digital certificates for signing code, why can't a bigger company be bothered with this?

about 3 months ago

Adobe Creative Cloud Is Back

Smerta Re:Creative Suite Six will be Adobe's XP (74 comments)

Totally agree. Still chugging away on my 7 year old copy of CS3, bought back when I qualified for the student discount. (Actually if I want to find CS6, I should probably start looking now. Just did some poking around, looks like slim pickings already. Even Fry's, which I normally avoid, is only selling Cloud now, sigh...)

about 3 months ago

Proton-M Rocket Carrying Russia's Most Advanced Satellite Crashes

Smerta Channeling Joe Pesci (160 comments)

CIA: "Hey Putin, nice rocket you got there. Sure would be shame if something happened to it in flight."

about 3 months ago

FCC Votes To Consider Next Round of 'Net Neutrality' Rules

Smerta Re:This is dismaying (182 comments)

The old saying goes, "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity." But if you knew the whole story, you would know that stupidity does not adequately explain Wheeler's actions. It is malice, through and through.

True, but let's acknowledge the fact that Wheeler could be (probably is) a dumb mule as well.

A malicious, conniving mule who's lining his pockets with bundles of cash from Comcast & Verizon etc., but a dumb mule nonetheless. (Speaking of mules, don't they whip mules if they don't do what you need them to do?)

Disclaimer: animal-lover. I just have a lot of contempt for Wheeler and his ilk.

about 3 months ago



Toyota's Killer Firmware

Smerta Smerta writes  |  about 10 months ago

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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