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Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London

Voyager529 (Why is IMEI changeable in the first place?) (105 comments)

Because Asurion. Handset insurance almost invariably involves refurbished units. If the baseband of one phone is broken, but the mainboard of another is okay, which IMEI do you use? The answer is to scrap them both and generate a new one on the refurbished unit. Even for the phones that don't support this, it is still technically a "different phone" that has its cracked screen replaced, because if that phone then needs an insurance replacement, retaining the IMEI will garner a "but this phone has already been replaced" situation. If the IMEI changes, it makes it all but impossible for refurbs to be reliably done.


Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

Voyager529 Re:Astronomy (exoplanets,etc ) and Cosmology say H (290 comments)

I think that's where "law of diminishing returns" comes into play. The things you're discussing are wonderful and fascinating and have plenty of implications in science. However, researching exoplanets is only possible with orbiting telescopes or the VLA or Arecebo...the kinds of things that can find stuff, but "bigger than that" will be required to find the next thing.

The first telescopes used a pair of lenses, then mirrors, then finely-created mirrors, then a high quantity of parabolic radio dishes, then really really really big mirrors - launched into orbit. Two lenses were (roughly) affordable by the common man. Mirrors, also affordable by the common man who had a tax return. Then a wealthy hobbyist or dedicated scientist, then a research lab, then a country.

The difference between "how much it costs for the stuff to find new stuff" and "how much new stuff that really expensive stuff will be found" are the questions at hand. We live in an infinite universe, so there's an infinite number of discoveries to be made. It just starts to cost impractical amounts of money after a while.

(and yes, I'm aware that my history of the telescope is grossly oversimplified and incredibly glazed over. This is a Slashdot post, not a thesis.)

5 days ago

Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

Voyager529 Re:When should you abandon a service for error? (127 comments)

It's also entirely possible to use the MyCloud device if you are willing to use FTP/SSH when out and about, or with a little command line magic

FTP and SSH won't connect for me. Just hangs.

Sorry for the dumb question, but are you certain that FTP and/or SSH is enabled in the WebUI? I don't recall if FTP is enabled by default, but I know for a fact that SSH is disabled unless explicitly enabled.

If so, go to Western Digital's website as I know they've had a few firmware updates for the drives in recent history. Try running those firmware upgrades if you can and see if it solves your problem.

about two weeks ago

Canonical Shutting Down Ubuntu One File Services

Voyager529 Re:FTP? (160 comments)

I like FTP as much as the next Slashdotter, but it's not a perfect overlap to the same problem that Dropbox/Gdrive/UbuntuOne solves.

FTP doesn't do delta syncs. While this is okay for a 50KB text file or even a 2MB spreadsheet, transferring a 1GB file in its entirety is undesirable.
FTP requires an "intentional transfer". You save locally, then you upload remotely. U1 et al does this as a single step.
FTP requires an open port on the receiving end, which is not always possible (e.g., public/corporate Wi-Fi). These services handle NAT traversal seamlessly.
FTP is sometimes blocked on residential internet connections. U1 is not.
FTP can only share files with another user if its structure is designed to accommodate it. Dropbox can share files using a simple "share" command (I don't know if U1 supports this).
FTP on mobile devices is a nightmare, either because iOS gets weird with its attempts to hide the "complexity" of a file system, or because Android doesn't. Again, Dropbox makes this seamless, but I don't know if U1 does this any better.

Like I said, I really like FTP, because it's very quick, no storage limits, and is a very minimalist protocol that has withstood the test of time. There are, however, very valid reasons for the success of services like Ubuntu One and Dropbox.

about two weeks ago

Canonical Shutting Down Ubuntu One File Services

Voyager529 Re:Another Cloud Dispersal (160 comments)

The non-permanence of cloud services like storage and sharing is going to be hard to solve. Sure some will last. But some will not. How do you choose the ones the will?

Ask the NSA which one they use.

about two weeks ago

Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

Voyager529 Re:I'll be avoiding WD products. Thanks. (127 comments)

So customers ability to access their bought-and-paid-for hard drive depends on WD's ability to keep their servers up?

Not exactly. Think of it this way: Western Digital handles NAT traversal and Dynamic DNS. The bright side is that buyers don't have to mess with their routers to make the drive work and then sign up for DynDNS or somesuch in order to remotely access it. For a LOT of non-Slashdotters, this is a good thing.

Naturally, this also means that once the service that streamlines that process goes down, people's remote access to their data goes down. Think of it like having Filezilla Server installed on your desktop with port 21 forwarded/translated to it from your router. Then, while you're out, someone at home factory resets the router and loses your config. Same principle.

What is so "cloud" about this setup anyway? It just seems like weapons-grade incompetence in design and implementation. I'll be avoiding WD

The "Cloud" part is the "always on, available everywhere" part of the equation, complete with a mobile app. the "My" part is that your data still lives at your house, on your hardware, and Western Digital doesn't have access to it. The drive is marketed this way because its ability to do Samba, FTP, and SSH (and the fact that it runs a small Linux stack so you can run rsync and BT Sync with some command line magic) out of the box just fine without ever signing up for Western Digital services doesn't exactly scream "Buy Me!!!!111" to most consumers. Think of it like a pre-assembled, single-drive FreeNAS that doesn't support iSCSI or NFS and uses EXT4 (I think), that also has a "hold my hand mode" for people who are confused about things like "file systems" and "not getting software through an app market of some kind".

about two weeks ago

Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

Voyager529 Re:When should you abandon a service for error? (127 comments)

Instead I'd buy a NAS box for the local network that doesn't depend on someone else's servers

Which, incidentally, is essentially what MyCloud is. I have a Western Digital MyCloud sitting at home and I never even noticed the outage. If you don't bother trying to access it from outside your home network, it's basically just a little NAS device.

I came here to reiterate basically this. The MyCloud devices do use WD services, but essentially what Western Digital does is perform relay services and dynamic DNS, for users who don't know how to do port forwarding and NAT translation (and/or have outbound port 80 blocked on their residential line) but still want a pretty app on their iPhone. Samba/CIFS still works perfectly on a LAN despite the outage. It's also entirely possible to use the MyCloud device if you are willing to use FTP/SSH when out and about, or with a little command line magic, get BitTorrent Sync up and running on those drives - it takes less than ten minutes of cutting and pasting into Putty.

Even if the WD services never come back, the only thing that is gone is the convenience factor. Now to be fair, that's a huge selling point of these drives that makes them more expensive than equal-capacity USB volumes. I understand the frustration of building a workflow around a feature set prominently displayed on the box, and I'm not saying that Western Digital doesn't have a responsibility to get their act together. At the same time, the fact that there are very time tested methods of accessing the data without the service, so it's a very different scenario than, say, Dropbox going down for a week or Google deciding to throw in the towel with Google Drive.

about two weeks ago

Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

Voyager529 Re:What idiot thought this was a good pick for /.? (490 comments)

And what idiot actually shops for a new laptop at Best Buy?

In fairness, the answer to this question is:
"People with the completely reasonable desire to physically interact with a laptop before they purchase it, but don't live reasonably close to a Microcenter or a Fry's or an Apple store (if they want a Macbook)."

Unfortunately, Best Buy is still more plentiful and advertises much more than the other places that sell laptops retail. Amazon and Newegg are wonderful, but you won't be able to feel whether the keyboard is comfortable or not, and the answer is so highly subjective that reviews aren't worth much, either. Spec sheets don't tell the whole story, and unless you're either close enough to a store that specializes in laptop sales (like Microcenter), rich enough to buy a laptop from a boutique seller (like Origin PC or Falcon Northwest), or simply don't care (at which point even Best Buy units are acceptable), Best Buy is kind of "it".

about three weeks ago

Google Tries To Defuse Glass "Myths"

Voyager529 I still have two concerns. (363 comments)

ugh, first attempt bit-bucketed...

1.) Google hasn't done a terribly good job at explaining what Glass DOES do. This very blog post focuses on what it does NOT do. Let's assume I buy everything the blog post says, hook/line/sinker. $1,500 to avoid having to pull out my phone in the event of a text message doesn't seem terribly useful to me. Identifying buildings or navigation overlay might be a useful example of how this tech works, but given the 'all walks of life' thing they're trying to express, the single biggest thing they could do to allay the "all photos all the time" problem is to give us a list of things Glass *can* do, besides taking pictures. This is already blazed trail - 15 years ago, GPS in a phone was creepy...and then we were able to ditch our TomToms for Waze, we were able to have our phones automatically text our friends when we were nearby, we were able to be guided through mass transit systems, and we were able to figure out what movies were playing in the nearest cinema, even if we were on vacation. Suddenly, wearing a GPS was acceptable, to the point where 'checking in' and explicitly telling the world where we were was a 'thing'. Focus on why I'd want to own one, not why I wouldn't want others to own one.

2.) My other problem is Google. My friend and fellow Slashdotter Rob keeps telling me that Google is about the safest place for my data to be, aside from my own server. I, personally, see Google making it far too easy to get far too much personal data from users. Even if they're not presently evil, if they decide to go down that road, they've already got the infrastructure, run their competitors out of town, and have years of data they can mine. Glass without Google's internet services is like Geordi's visor to Data - technically functional, but worthless in practice. The person may have accidentally taken a photo of me, and I generally wouldn't care...but why is Google pushing the product? Again, even if the people at the helm would actively stand against using it as a raw surveillence tool, they won't be there forever. I don't trust Glass photos to be taken, but not geotagged, uploaded, and analyzed. "An inadvertent photo of me" is one thing. "An inadvertent photo of me, time stamped and geotagged, uploaded to Google" is something else entirely.

about three weeks ago

Unreal Engine 4 Launching With Full Source Code

Voyager529 Re:I'm laughing, but also crying (149 comments)

Things have gotten much better in gaming as of late, but also a hell of a lot worse. A few titles have come out lately that actually have full editors and SDKs, but it's still a far cry (hurr hurr) from where it was at one point.

Well, the fact of the matter was that CoD and Battlefield proved that it's far more profitable to released a game with a dozen maps, then charge $15 a pop for a half a dozen new maps every three months, than to equip players to make their own and circulate them around the internet for free.

What bothers me the most is the complete lack of LAN play. Everything wants you to make an account and join a server and do all this matchmaking crap, when all I want to do is play against my friends, in the same room, by typing an IP address. Relatively few games within the past few years support this anymore, and I remember a friend and I sitting down for fifteen minutes trying to figure out how the hell to play against each other on Crysis 3... >.

about a month ago

Unreal Engine 4 Launching With Full Source Code

Voyager529 Re:Unreal Tournament 4? (149 comments)

Will this herald a new Unreal Tournament 4 game?

It seems to be in development by the same team feverishly coding Half-Life 3.


Unfortunately, I too pine for a new Unreal Tournament release, though it seems that Epic would much rather I spend my money on Gears of War instead :/.

about a month ago

Unreal Engine 4 Launching With Full Source Code

Voyager529 Re:Seems a reasonable approach (149 comments)

5% of gross turns out to be 30-50% of net gain for most developers (unless you're Blizzard or EA). That's what's causing the controversy.

The alternative, from EA's perspective, is accounting hell. Suppose you say that it's 10% of "net gain". Most would consider it reasonable to consider payroll something that would be deducted before EA's share, but suppose you're a single-op game developer, and you make a game that grosses $100,000. Suppose that after you've paid for your website, your bandwidth, your equipment, your Amazon EC2 instances, your Visual Studio licenses, refilled your Google AdWords account, and paid your electric bill, you've got $30,000 left over. Now since you're a single-op, you can write yourself a $30,000 payroll check. Epic now gets nothing, even though you've grossed $100,000 and netted $30,000, because you turned your profits into a payroll check. Conversely, Blizzard and EA can do soup-to-nuts Hollywood Accounting that shows that Titanfall and Starcraft 2 have both never made a cent.

Now what Epic could have done was to create a 'floor' - the first combined $100,000 gross, for example, wouldn't be 'taxable', and after that it's a 5% gross income. That seems like the least objectionable method to me; let a company make a few bucks before you start charging for it, while still ensuring that Mass Effect 4 makes them a cool six figures.

about a month ago

Unreal Engine 4 Launching With Full Source Code

Voyager529 Y'know what would be awesome? (149 comments)

If Epic demonstrated the capabilities of this engine by also having a first-party game released along with it. They could make it a multiplayer first person shooter, which I know is a well-trodden field, but I really think Epic could do it - especially one that includes LAN play, which seems to be poorly represented in games these days. And then, they could bundle a few of the tools with the game so that some gamers could make their own content for it, and do something really earth-shattering - user-generated DLC, FOR FREE!

If only I could think of a name for this game....

about a month ago

Microsoft Releases Free Edition of OneNote

Voyager529 Re: Where's the data stored? (208 comments)

This may actually be a good thing...and I can't believe I'm actually saying that about a Cloud Computing (tm) product...but roll with me for a minute; I think this may be a worthwhile system for them to be using...

1.) Onenote's first release was back in 2003. After over ten years of existence, plenty of people still don't know what it is. Onenote was originally intended to be the killer app for tablets (back when they all had pens and keyboards and were running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition...). Why not do whatever it takes to get it on Tablets?

2.) The Slashdot crowd cares a lot about privacy. Most computer users don't. Most computer users upload data to Dropbox and Google Drive without hesitation. The requirement of storing their data on Microsoft's mothership will likely be even less of a concern. If anything, users are more likely to be better served by a system that doesn't require them to be involved with file sync management hell, or worried about losing all their notes once "click of death" comes to a hard disk near them.

2b.) If privacy is of greater concern than one's money, it's possible to buy Office 2013 outright, or hit The Pirate Bay. The fact that there is a free cloud-only option, thankfully, did not preclude Microsoft from selling the locally saving flavor.

2c.) I haven't tested this, but I do wonder if it's possible to download one's OneNote notebook from the OneDrive once it's stored there...it seems logical for the two-step method to work...

3.) Onenote can really shine with the collaboration and seamless syncing. If Microsoft does it right, I think it will give them some good PR to have a Onenote notebook seamlessly work between a user's iPhone, Android tablet, Windows laptop, and web browser. I think that, if there were any particular program that lent itself to a cloud sync method of replication, it's OneNote - Unlike Word and Powerpoint, which use self contained document files, Onenote is more like Outlook in that notebooks are more database/PST-like single mammoth files. Sharing individual pages via The Cloud (tm) will be much easier than some sort of import/export version hell. All of this together, I think, makes Onenote more useful than just "a five subject notebook on a computer".

4.) Microsoft's other gain here is (potentially) an uptick in people actually using their whole Microsoft account - OneDrive, Outlook.com, and Office Web Apps. If Onenote is free in exchange for also using those other services, then I think that this method of "enticing users to get a Microsoft account" is less objectionable than their method of "enticing users to use the Metro UI". Even if a user never uses a single Microsoft property besides Onenote, they still get 7GB of storage...and a 7GB Onenote notebook is a rather large piece of data...

Bonus point: Google requires a Gmail account in order to use QuickOffice, even if you intend on storing a document locally. It's bad when they do it as well, I'm just saying that there's precedent for an application to still require login and that it wasn't Microsoft who started this trend.

All in all, as much as I hate storing things in The Cloud (tm), I think that the benefits for most people make it less objectionable for the masses than it is for us Slashdot folk.

about a month ago

1GB of Google Drive Storage Now Costs Only $0.02 Per Month

Voyager529 Re:Encryption? (335 comments)

I'm worst than that, I make randomly-written files, compress them to ZIP, compress them again in RAR, put that inside a GZ, ROT13 the whole thing and then encrypt it.

And for the cherry on top, I name the file "confidential_data.dmg" before uploading it.

I've done pretty close already:


All that's in there is a spanned RAR archive of a 10GB file consisting solely of the output of a windows variant of /dev/random, password protected using a full 64 character alphanumeric/symbolic password from GRC.

I tip my hat to your multiple levels of encryption, but I'm glad to know that somewhere out there, Google has redundantly stored about 9GB of completely useless data.

about a month ago

What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

Voyager529 I think it would be a bad idea for Tesla (330 comments)

Now what DOES work well for Tesla is the blank check they'll get for making it. However, it will end up having a whole lot of redesign involved. Even if you tripled the battery pack's size, is it a linear gain for a vehicle that's somewhere around triple the weight of their existing models? Methinks not. The "in-flight refueling" truck situation has its own can of worms - you'd need a mobile charging unit capable of giving it enough juice to justify the trip in just a few minutes...I'm pretty sure that despite thirty years of work regarding power generation, we're still stuck with bolts of lightning and plutonium from Libyan nationalists to generate 1.21 gigawatts...neither of which are exactly 'portable', and all of THEM will have to be powered with something, so either you're simply offshoring the oil combustion, or "it's turtles all the way down".

Meanwhile, you'd need not just one of these things, but a dozen - remember that Tesla would have to build the decoy units, too...which means you'd also need a dozen refueling trucks. If you ditch all of that, then you'll have a fairly short range you'll be able to go, which will defeat most of the purpose of getting the limo replaced.

And after all of that...exactly what does that net Tesla? Are they looking to make alternatives to the Ford F150 or similar (justifying the work done on making a Tesla engine that can move that kind of weight)? Would it be a foot-in-door to get military contracts (justifying the R&D on an armored Tesla)? Could the charge-en-route tech be adapted for AAA tow trucks? ...Or would Uncle Sam simply pay for all the R&D because the tech needed for this project to work is so vastly different than Tesla's existing designs that monetizing them independently of the limo contract will prove impractical?

about a month ago

Stanford Team Tries For Better Wi-Fi In Crowded Buildings

Voyager529 Re:Dorms (43 comments)

It's a shame the kids these days can't be bothered to plug a computer into the Ethernet drops that were installed in their rooms 20 years ago.

To be fair, plenty of the anorexic laptops being sold these days have shed the ethernet port (obnoxiously, most of the sub-$500 laptops only have 10/100 NICs...), and phones and tablets are wi-fi or cellular only; wired isn't even an option for them.

about a month ago

RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores

Voyager529 Re:Monoprice should buy them (423 comments)

Meh, why would Monoprice want to run brick and mortar stores?

The Slashdot crowd knows them well. Joe Sixpack still thinks he needs to pay $99 for a Monster Cable. As long as people buy HDMI cables from Best Buy, there is room for Monoprice to exist.

Between their own website and their increasing selection on Amazon I'm not sure why they'd bother

Personally, I go to Monoprice to buy, not to browse. Their website is designed for this, and wonderfully so. The retail side of things could take care of the other half.

I mean how many people need a cable today and not tomorrow with express shipping or in two days with free shipping (thanks Prime!).

HDMI cables are, in fairness, a high-margin item that can tolerate higher latency. However, Monorprice sells plenty of other things - routers, speakers, security cameras, monitors, home theater receivers...really, they're not unlike Radio Shack of the 80's, they're just known best as the place where you can get a kilometer of ethernet cable for half the price of Home Depot.

I concur that ordering online mostly works, most of the time. At the same time, if Sony, Microsoft, Bose, and Harmon Kardon can justify having retail stores, then I postulate that brick-and-mortar isn't as dead as Amazon wants you to think it is.

about a month ago

Apple Refuses To Unlock Bequeathed iPad

Voyager529 Counterpoint (465 comments)

I subscribe to a service called PrimeCuts. It's a service that gets music in the hands of mobile DJs and radio stations, with the full blessing of the RIAA (not that I necessarily desire to be in the RIAA's good graces, but if the Tannenbaum and Thomas-Rasett cases prove anything, it's that they aren't fair regarding noncommercial infringement, thus, commercial infringement in the context of being a mobile DJ would involve that much less fairness...). I cannot (legally) sell the CDs they send me on eBay. I'm pretty sure I can't even legally give them away, for free, even as a permanent transfer. My only recourse, should I wish to absolve myself of the CDs, is to sell my DJ business. The discs are a business asset and they can be permanently transferred as a part of the whole business being transferred, but not as discs by themselves. I think that there is merit to some sort of parallel in this case.

Usual not-a-lawyer disclaimers apply, but my logical reasoning says that a permanent transfer of the iTunes account would allow for digital content to be used by the beneficiary of the will. The apps/music/videos are still tied to the same iTunes account and aren't being transferred between accounts (a requirement for your 'secondary market' analogy to apply), but the account is being used by the beneficiary of the will. Now, for this to work, there needs to be a few things determined:

1.) is digital content given to an account, or a human?
1a.) If account, is it a reasonable argument that since the iPad was left, that the account is an inexorable part of the device? e.g. if a house is stated in a will, but the keys are not, is the beneficiary thus not allowed to enter the house?
1b.) If human, does the Apple EULA explicitly state that the rights cannot be transferred within a will? If so, it seems grounds for a court battle, since intellectual property is transferred all the time as a part of a will - art, vinyl records, DVDs, computer software on plastic disc, etc. Is there sufficient legal precedent to state that content purchased from Apple is not subject to the same laws that allow DVDs to be subject to the terms of the will?
2.) Could it be argued that the only reason this case exists is because there is a passcode on the device, without which, Apple probably wouldn't have been contacted in the first place?
3.) It is entirely possible that there are notes, voice memos, photos, and videos that were generated by the deceased, not by Apple or its licensors. Apple's withholding of the passcode prevents the user from accessing that data, which seems like shaky ground as well.

Then again, this is the problem with 'magic boxes' - people don't quite understand exactly how things interrelate, which means that things that aren't explicitly specified are subject to ambiguity for no reason.

about a month ago

RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores

Voyager529 Monoprice should buy them (423 comments)

If Monoprice buys them...

1.) Monoprice has a brick-and-mortar presence. They're well known for having cables super-cheap, which would be impossible to sustain at retail, but even if they sell 6ft. HDMI cables at $7.99 each, they'll still be cheaper than anyone else within a 50 mile radius AND pretty easily make up the difference.

2.) Monoprice is basically vertical at this point. They only need to sell first party gear, so they don't have to "pay" the third party manufacturers in order to have the merchandise around.

3.) Monoprice may not sell capacitors and resistors, but their merchandise has a better overlap with Radioshack than basically anyone else who would buy the retail space.

4.) With retail space, Monoprice can beat Amazon at their own game - carry the iPhone chargers and HDMI cables and 3.5mm aux cables and basic home routers and security cameras in huge quantities to make the money from the masses, and then for the oddball request for a SAS/SATA breakout cable, buyers get $1.99 overnight shipping to any Monoprice store.

To me, that would be amazing. Alas, I can dream.

about a month and a half ago



No Windows 7 XP Mode for Sony Vaio Owners

Voyager529 Voyager529 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Voyager529 writes "While virtually every Core 2 Duo processor supports the hardware virtualization technology that powers the Windows 7 XP Mode, The Register UK reports that the Core 2 Duo processors in the Sony Vaio Z series laptops had the virtualization features intentionally crippled in the BIOS. Senior manager for product marketing Xavier Lauwaert stated that the QA engineers did this to make the systems more resilient against malicious code. He also stated that while they are considering enabling VT in some laptop models due to the backlash, the Z series are not among those being retrofitted."

Linux replacing Active Directory, but with AD UI?

Voyager529 Voyager529 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Voyager529 writes "In about three weeks, I graduate with a BS in Information Technology. The curriculum is largely Windows based. In the token Linux class I did take, my professor spent half the time talking about Roman coins, and the time that we did spend in Linux, we spent using the cat and ls commands, along with other simple scripting issues. These things are useful no doubt, but it seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Being as most of the system administration stuff I learned on Windows Server and Novell. I would like to learn more about how to administer a LAN using a Linux system as opposed to Windows Server. I tried using SuSe Enterprise Server in a virtual machine at one point. DHCP, DNS, and the like were pretty easy to pick up. The issue I ran into was trying to do the things that are done in Active Directory on the Windows side.

I know that this is slashdot, and all the purists will tell me that I should learn to do all of this on a command line and whatnot, and I don't entirely disagree with you. I just want a place to start. Is there a Linux distro that *gasp* emulates the interface of Windows Server to a sufficient extent that I wouldn't be completely lost in?

Thank you in advance!"


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