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Sprint To Shut Down Nextel iDEN Network Next Year

Tacvek Re:PTT over CDMA? (53 comments)

I suspect they will be doing PTT over something like SIP and RTP. This is known as Push to Talk over Cellular (iDEN is not classified as a cellular network for regulatory purposes in the US) and is abbreviated PoC. It was standardized by the Open Mobile Alliance for both 3GPP (GSM-family) and 3GPP2 (CDMA-family) networks.

more than 2 years ago

US CIO/CTO: Idea of Hiring COBOL Coders Laughable

Tacvek Re:I agree with this sentiment (265 comments)

I'm curious as to what makes COBOL the right tool for data processing tasks.

I was under the impression that much of the reason it was still around is generally because there are existing large projects already written in it, and it is generally deemed to expensive to try to convert to some more modern language. You make it sound like there is more to it than just that (although surely it plays a part).

What makes it a better language than say Java or Python for data processing tasks? If one chooses to use those languages in a more purely procedural style (rather than an object oriented style) would they not produce similarly straightforward code, but with the advantage of having a much larger pool of developers?

more than 2 years ago

FCC Boss Backs Metering the Internet

Tacvek Re:Innovate or become obsolete. That's where it's (515 comments)

Early on, cable lines broadcast exactly the same signal to everybody in a city. These days that is no longer true. Cable internet basically requires that the city be broken up into multiple signal domains, perhaps as small as one per neighborhood. This is also used to provide targeted commercials, and on demand content.

Now that we have targeted areas, it is possible in theory to only send the channels in use in that area, and letting the system reuse the space for unviewed channels as DOCSIS channels. Indeed this technology has existed for a while. Yet, correct me if I am wrong, I believe this system is not in active use.

This is true, to an extent.

Targeted area's are really only as accurate as the provider makes them, and its filtered more by the physical line that they're on vs the IP address that they have.

True, but the fewer people on each cable, the more useful being able to able to broadcast the digital channels only 'on demand', letting them become data channels when not in use. If you have one area for the whole city then most of the channels will be in use most of the time, but the fewer in each area, the fewer distinct tv channels are likely to be being watched at any given time, and thus more channels available for data.

For example if CMTS 1 Services Central PHX and CMTS 2 Services East PHX, you can know what area's a node on each is going to affect down to the street addresses if you have an outage.

The problem is Analog broadcasting. The FCC says that if you aren't transmitting for older TV's on your lines, you have to provide an Analog converter. In many smaller systems its cheaper to supply a digital converter and do away with analog entirely since the equipment costs for side by side broadcast are more than just putting out a couple hundred converters (that the government gives a tax credit on).

There's the final part of the problem. The internet switches (nodes) only control the access so long as the equipment exists in three places. The office, the node and the modem at the user. In order to broadcast digitally in the same manner that the internet works, every TV for every customer must be compatible. That means the big, expensive converters the government doesn't subsidize. You know how you pay 5$ a month for them right now? If they threw that switch, there's a good chance the FCC could interpret the rules of the digital cut over to provide those for free, since now they're 'necessary' to have any TV connected. By keeping it simpler its easier to charge more money. *

Could they not avoid this whole mess by always broadcasting the non-encrypted analog channels, and only do the 'channels on demand, DOCSIS when not demanded' for the channels that already require a set-top box or CableCard? That sounds pretty easy. Existing cable boxes could be upgraded in place with a firmware update, so that they communicate the channels they are watching in the same way they communicate VOD requests. Upgrading the CableCards might be harder depending on a few implementation details, but my understanding was that relatively few subscribers opt to use CableCards anyway, so even if they had to all be replaced, the cost should be relatively low.

*Note: I never said I -agree- with any of the practices in place. However, show me a for-profit business that isn't out for money and I'll show you a lie.

more than 2 years ago

FCC Boss Backs Metering the Internet

Tacvek Re:Innovate or become obsolete. That's where it's (515 comments)

Upgrading systems costs an insane amount of money. That more than anything is the reason that cable monopolies exist, the cost of entry prohibits competition. To install a new plant in an town of 50k takes something to the tune of 2-3 million dollars, with zero guarantee on how long it will take to recover that cost, if ever.

That might be part of the reason for cable monopolies, but the bigger reason is the local laws in most cities that explicitly grant one company a monopoly.

Cable lines have reached their limit unless someone comes up with a new way of multiplexing, and if its that significant a step up you'll see it deployed very rapidly.

Early on, cable lines broadcast exactly the same signal to everybody in a city. These days that is no longer true. Cable internet basically requires that the city be broken up into multiple signal domains, perhaps as small as one per neighborhood. This is also used to provide targeted commercials, and on demand content.

Now that we have targeted areas, it is possible in theory to only send the channels in use in that area, and letting the system reuse the space for unviewed channels as DOCSIS channels. Indeed this technology has existed for a while. Yet, correct me if I am wrong, I believe this system is not in active use.

more than 2 years ago

Amazon Patents Pitching As-Seen-On-TV Products

Tacvek Re:Yup. (83 comments)

That would be true, except that in the claims themselves they do not use the term broadcast media, only in the disclosure. In the disclosure one may freely use the general meaning of terms even when they have a distinct legal meaning.

In the general meaning of the terms, cable is definitely broadcast media, since it is not unicast, anycast, or even multicast. Besides they specify in the vdisclosure that what they label a broadcast source "includes, for example, a satellite, an antenna, and/or a cable network such as, for instance, fiber optics, analog-to-digital conversion, and/or other types of cable networks."

more than 2 years ago

Amazon Patents Pitching As-Seen-On-TV Products

Tacvek Re:Yup. (83 comments)

The patent is explicitly about purchasing recommendations influenced by the broadcast media the user is currently consuming (i.e. recomendations based on the TV show/commercial/movie/infomercial you are watching *right at this minute*), and what other people purchased while consuming the same program, combined with data about items being shown in said program.

The description gives the example of a button on your cable box/sat receiver remote that you can push while watching TV, which will add a border next to the show allowing you to purchase what is being shown, and offering recommendations for other similar products.

more than 2 years ago

Your Passwords Don't Suck — It's Your Policies

Tacvek Re:Passfault is faulty, socially irresponsible (487 comments)

Did you set the options correctly?
If I set the cracking hardware to be "an average GPU" and the same password that would take 2 days when protected by Microsoft Windows System (1 round md4) would take 54 centuries using bcrypt.

Admittedly the software on the website is only set up as a demonstration. It grossly underestimates the speed of GPU based cracking at the moment (it multiplies the speed of CPU by the number of stream processors), and lacks many types like crypt-md5.

But the underlying concept (determine the pattern used, assume the cracker knows the pattern used, calculate the number of passwords that fit this pattern, divide by crackers check rate) is sound.

more than 2 years ago

Mozilla Leaves Out Linux For Initial Web App Support

Tacvek Re:Fork it, then (403 comments)

Correct. Both issues did come up, but it is likely that some form of compromise could have been found. The real problem though was that the firefox logo was under a non-free copyright license, in addition to the trademark license. Debian does not allow any software under a non-free license (except for license texts themselves) in main, and they take that very seriously.

Debian wanted to use the empty globe logo, but Mozilla declined to permit that.

Debian would have been willing to use a redrawn version of the logo that had a free copyright license, but Mozilla declined to permit that.

Thus the "fork" was required if Debian wanted to ship a Firefox compatible browser in main.

more than 2 years ago

Engineers Ponder Easier Fix To Internet Problem

Tacvek Re:The big fix... (75 comments)

You also gain the bonus feature that with a single config line change, you can put one of your private "NATed" machines out in your DMZ and don't have to reconfigure anything else but one entry on the firewall

To people who care about security and know their stuff that is a bug not a feature. Think about what happens if one day someone fat-fingers the firewall config. The DMZ servers would be hardened so they might survive the exposure. The other machines on your private network are unlikely to be safe when accidentally exposed to the world. In many real world corporations there are usually servers that can't be locked down that tightly.

Really? That's your argument?

If you are using a many-to-many NAT setup (as many reasonably sized companies would require), you are able to place up to one machine in the DMZ per external IP. So the mistake in question is already possible without

Furthermore many large companies have never used NAT, and they don't have these problems. They have only ever used public IP addresses, and a stateful firewall. They avoid issues like you are talking about by being careful, and having security in depth. For example having multiple firewalls, can prevent accidentally placing a machine in the DMZ with a single mistake. You could make it such that an IP address must be explicitly listed in the edge firewall to be in the DMZ. If you also have the inner firewall configured to require stateful connections for all machines, then the only way to accidentally expose a machine is to make two mistakes. The mistakes could be placing an internal machine in the DMZ vlan and also adding its IP address to the edge firewall, or managing to mess up the configuration of both firewalls simultaneously.

more than 2 years ago

NY Times: Microsoft Tried To Unload Bing On Facebook

Tacvek Re:Stupid to Sell (230 comments)

You can avoid your first issue with Google by using verbatim search mode.

To activate it, add '&tbs=li:1' (without the quotes, of course) to the url. In the alternative, it can be manually activated by clicking the link on the left side of the results page labeled "more search tools", which will cause a list of search modes to appear. You can then choose verbatim.

more than 2 years ago

TSA Tests Automated ID Authentication

Tacvek Re:a first (190 comments)

DHS is not a law enforcement agency. Rather is is a United States federal department. It does contain more federal law enforcement officers than any other branch, but that does not make it a LEA.

The NCIC database is another example. They normally only give access to employees of actual law enforcement agencies (the employes are, however, not required to be law enforcement officers). Thus for the TSA to access it, would require that they used employes of the Federal Air Marshal Service, or get an exception to the usual policy.

more than 2 years ago

TSA Tests Automated ID Authentication

Tacvek Re:a first (190 comments)

    Did you see the price tag on it??

    I never understood why they didn't tie in the TSA checkpoint with state DMV and ICE.

Does the photo on the ID handed to you look like the photo on the screen? Yes/No

Does the name on the ID handed to you match the name on the screen? Yes/No

Does the name on the boarding pass match the name on the ID? Yes/No

Does the airline ticketing system information match the boarding pass as provided? Yes/No

If any questions were answered with a "No", separate the person for further evaluation.

Nice, but you forgot one important step there. Namely:

Does the photo on the ID match the person presenting it? Yes/No

That and the fact they they had the ID in their possession are the only things that tie the person to the claimed identity.

But yes, that is a far more sane idea for improving security than almost anything the TSA has done.

The real reason that this is not being done might be that the TSA is not a law enforcement agency. Thus it is possible if not plausible that one or more states would not permit them electronic access to DMV (or BMV, as the case may be) records. State law may reserve that ability for law-enforcement (and the DMV itself), leaving only printouts or quarterly data dumps.

more than 2 years ago

Apple Under Fire For Backing Off IPv6 Support

Tacvek Re:PEBKAC flaw in logic (460 comments)

Why would end-to-end be broken?

Just because your IP address might change every week or so does not prevent a remote computer from connecting to yours. And you can always use dynamic DNS to host a server.

about 2 years ago

Apple Under Fire For Backing Off IPv6 Support

Tacvek Re:Good for them! PRIVACY gone in 128bits (460 comments)

Actually the value being widely recommended is a /56. See RFC 6177. That allows the user quite a few subnets, more than most homes and small businesses will likely use. Those with larger requirements should have no problem requesting a larger block.

more than 2 years ago

Apple Under Fire For Backing Off IPv6 Support

Tacvek Re:PEBKAC flaw in logic (460 comments)

Let's assume your provider gives you a /64 address space, which is the minimum size allocation that supports auto-configuration via SLAAC.
It would be easy enough for the provider to offer dynamic IP block service, where your modem/router gets assigned a different /64 address space each time.

Then all you need to do is turn on privacy SLAAC addresses, which prevents using just the local part to identify you.

I fully expect that by default ISPs will provide dynamic blocks to most consumer clients, if for no other reason than to discourage hosting servers.

more than 2 years ago

ICANN's Brand-Named Internet Suffix Application Deadline Looms

Tacvek Re:.localhost (197 comments)

We need a .localhost

You joke, but that domain is actually reserved per RFC 2606. ICANN has no authority to issue it, and the IANA would reject it, even if ICANN attempted to approve it. (The IANA is actually part of ICANN, but only the IANA portion can actual make changes to the root zone. The rest of the organization exists just to create a business model for registrars.)

more than 2 years ago

Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law

Tacvek Re:I would actually teach Intelligent Design... (672 comments)

At least geology, archeology and paleontology's theories are potentially falsifiable (i.e. we can and regularly do find things that cause us to discard previously accepted theories in those sciences).

It is unfortunate that many theories in those fields are not testable, and thus coupled with a finite amount of remaining evidence may settle on an incorrect theory if no evidence that contradicts it remains. However, use of the scientific method in forming and rejecting hypotheses does allow these to be called science

more than 2 years ago

Australian WiFi Inventors Win US Legal Battle

Tacvek Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (193 comments)

One of the biggest patent trolls in the world is acknowledged to be Intellectual Ventures. And they do original research of their own too.


Doing original research isn't sufficient to escape being considered a patent troll.

Also true.

As far as income, IV gets a lot from the companies that have bought a stake in their operations. They aren't solely funded by patent income either.

Also true.

Now CSIRO may be a research organization. But this business model of turning government funding into lawsuits around the world is patent trolling. Sorry if you don't like it, but that's the way it is.

Here you go astray. You pointed out many similaries between IV and CSIRO, but failed to note the major differences.

This quote from Wikipedia shows the major difference (emphasis added):

Investigative journalism suggests that the company makes most of its income from lawsuits and licensing of already-existing inventions, rather than from its own innovation. Intellectual Ventures has been described as a "patent troll" by Shane Robison, CTO of Hewlett Packard and others, allegedly accumulating patents not in order to develop products around them but with the goal to pressure large companies into paying licensing fees.

I argue that a company is a patent troll if they are suing others using patents for technology they neither invented nor use. Basically patent trolling is the use of patents purchased from third parties for the sole purpose of suing other companies. Either invention or real use of the patent in question is enough to keep you from being categorized as a patent troll.

more than 2 years ago

IETF Attendees Reengineer Their Hotel's Wi-Fi Net

Tacvek Re:the phone (120 comments)

Actually though, IPv7 predates IPv6!

The experimental IPv7 protocol was specified in June 1993 in RFC 1475 while IPv6 was specified as in December 1995 as RFC 1883.

more than 2 years ago



Tacvek Tacvek writes  |  about 8 years ago

Tacvek (948259) writes "As a comment pointed out ( 89&cid=16052521) the slashdot summary for "Wireless HDMI Prototype Announced" is incorrect. They are using the lossless form of JPEG2000"



Alternative Slashdot interview method?

Tacvek Tacvek writes  |  more than 8 years ago

While the current Slashdot interview method works, It has a few slight limitiations. One such limitation is that it is not really possible to ask a foillowup question based on the the person's response. There are some others as well. An interesting alternative in the case where the person beng interviewed happens to be a regular Slashdot contributer is a "realtime" interview. The questions are posted as normal, but, the person being interview may simply answer the question by responding. Now, ideally, the responses from the person being interviewed should be automaticcally +5'ed, as the answers are the whole point of the interview. Either that, ot give the person being interviewed, unlimited mod points, like the admins, but restricted to that article. This might even be limited to only positive moderations, to avoid abuse.

The advantage of the mod points based system is that the person being interviewed can make sure the questions are +5'ed as well, as the questions are also an important part of the interview.

Any ideas or comments?


Media Center and Media Center Extender

Tacvek Tacvek writes  |  more than 8 years ago This article is about Microsoft's Media Center concept. I suspect that MythTV has all, or at least most of the features mentioned, but I am familiar only with the Microsft offering.

For those who do not already have a large investment in audio-video components, except perhaps an expensive television, a Media Center PC may actually be a wise choice. Media Center Computers combine multiple components into a single box.

This solves a few problems. First the components can be well integrated, avoiding the problem of having having to chage the mode of three or more devices just to switch between television and DVD. Sure that may not be a problem for slashdot readers, but I know quite a few people who have difficulty with this. Second, there is only need for a single remote.

Third it cuts down on the wiring mess. Trying to connect each device in a typical home theatre system is non trivial, and eventually your devices will run out of inputs. Definately not ideal.

It may not be obvious what devices a Windows-based Media Center is intended to be able to replace, so I shall provide a list. Of course not all media center PCs ship with the hardware required to support all of these features.

  • FM Radio Tuner
  • Internet Radio Tuner
  • Digital Radio Recorder (Think Tivo for radio)
  • CD Player
  • CD Recorder
  • Digital Jukebox (No need for that 500 cd changer ;-) )
  • DVR/PVR (Better than Tivo brand DVRs, because no subsription is needed).
  • DVD Player
  • Dvd Recorder
  • Surround sound decoder. (You still need the speakers of course.)
  • Lastly it can still function as a PC

Many people who criticize the XBOX360's limited media support, fail to understand the concept of a Media Center Extender, so I shall explain.

A Media Center computer is a great concept. As I mentioned above, they avoid the problem of inter-device communication. There is also the added advantage of interface consistancy.Yet there is a problem. A Media Center PC really only serves one TV. That is great for those who only have a single TV they watch regularly, however many people have more than one tv.

So Microsoft created the Media Center Extender. This is a device that connects to a secondary television, and to the Media Center via a network. The extender provides an interface to acess the content of the Media Center, which is streamed via the network to the extender.

The XBOX360 is one such device. Connect it to a television, a surround sound decoder, and the network, and that TV has access to all of your media as well as your entire Xbox/Xbox360 game library. (Yes, Microsoft does intend for people to stream live and recorded TV through the XBOX360.) This works best in conjuction with with the Universal Media Remote and a second tuner in the media center. Quite intersting is that new features added to the Media Center Interface of the Media Center PC can be used by the XBOX360, and things like an NES Emulator are currently available.

The ability to read music/pictures from an MP3 Player/Digital Camera/Standard XP PC was added to the 360 as an afterthought, and is not the primary Media functionality of the 360.



Tacvek Tacvek writes  |  more than 8 years ago One of the biggest problems with the patent system is that it requires product makers to check to make sure that no part of the product is covered by a patent. This is absolutely unreasonable. It is extremely difficult to determine is something very specific is already covered by a patent. The USPTO cannot even do this. There are cases in which two patents for the EXACT same idea have been granted. Then there are many patents that are nearly identical to existing patents, but just slightly different, etc. If the USPTO cannot always successfuly discover existing patents when they are looking for one specific thing, how can a product maker be expected to find all patents that apply to any of the (potentially) several million components of the product?


For Those Who Care About Consumer Level Thin-clients

Tacvek Tacvek writes  |  more than 8 years ago

On several occasions I've had those who are somewhat computer literate remark that the current method of managaging several computers in unsatsifactory. They suggested what you and I know of as a thin-client architecture. A home would have one primary computer which might be fairly expensive (although even a cheap consumer PC could handle this). Then throught the house there would be inexpensive thin clients. The advantages of such a system should be clear. There is no need to remember what computer a file is stored on. There is only one computer to update every few years. One only needs to install programs on a single computer etc.

This is not to say that they system is without flaws. Some flaws are obvious. If the main system breaks then no 'system' can be used untill it is repaired. Other problems are more complex. For example, Games generally assume that there is a local graphics processor which outputs directly to the display. Remote hardware accelleration of graphics is currently an under-developed feild. The hardware graphics accellerator shpuld be on the server to keep the costs of the thin-clients down. Games also make other assumptions which might not be true in the case of a thin client.

The biggest problem however is architecural. Windows has some support for such a system, however the support is limited, and is not really intended for such a system. However, if we go with a non-Windows solution, then all the usual problems come into play. All too many people have been tried to use Microsoft Office and would have trouble with the transition to anything else, including OOo. Not to mention the clueless end-consumers would have trouble accepting that the software in the store won't magically work on their systems.

Let us assume that this hypothetical end-consumer has no problems with Microsoft compatability, and while not fully computer literate, happens to have one of us arround to maintain the System. The most obvious way of setting this up is the use of a user-freindly GNU/Linux distribution. The thin clients could be an X terminal. Sounds great. But there are problems. Many GNU/linux appliations that use X11 receive minimal testing of the case where the X11 server is not on the local machine. Some of them have problems with this. The X11 protocol lacks support for sound. Some seperate sound daemon would need to run on the thin client. To the best of my knowledge, there very few such sound daemons still being maintained. AFAIK X11 has no special support for allowing remote clients to access local drives.

One project minimizing the problem with the GNU/linux based solutions is the Linux Terminal Server Project. Perhaps if a solution to the Microsoft Problem(TM) can be found, a thin client platform could work well for end-users. Comments?

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