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Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

bware This isn't about theft, it's about anonymity. (299 comments)

Or rather lack thereof.

It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches.

Right now I can walk into a T-Mobile store, buy an iPhone with cash, pay the first month with cash, and get a burner smartphone with a data plan. No ID, no name, no address, no credit check.

If this law is implemented, the ability to buy a smartphone anonymously goes away. You'll have to show an ID. For this law. How else will they know whether you're the person who can request that that phone be bricked?

This isn't about theft, the police don't give a shit about theft. If you don't believe that, try reporting one. This is about removing the anonymity of burner phones.

about three weeks ago

No, a Huge Asteroid Is Not "Set To Wipe Out Life On Earth In 2880"

bware Re:Actually... (123 comments)

If a doctor recommended surgery, and the mortality rate was 1 in 4000, I'd make damn sure the benefits outweighed the risk. And I'd update my will.

That's right in the ballpark for general anesthesia by itself. When I signed the release form, it said 1 in 2000, but then they knocked me out (yay, propofol), so my memory might be faulty :)

Relative risks of common events is something people are just not good at estimating.

about a month ago

Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two)

bware Re:The utility/need/desire exists (107 comments)

But outside the big cities, which comprise less than 2% of the land area of the US, there are lots of use cases for a flying car.

Unfortunately for flying car manufacturers, big cities are where most of the population lives, and where most of the wealth is concentrated. If most people in the US can't use them, and the rest can't afford them, market forces work against a flying car being affordable.

about a month ago

The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

bware Re:Crazy Parakeet Man (259 comments)

When the "get random nonsense published" prank war hit physics, it's no surprise it was a string theory journal that fell for it.

Are you referring to Sokal?

That wasn't published in a string theory journal.

While I'm not the biggest fan of ST, I'm not aware of any prank publications in a refereed physics journal, and neither are the first three pages of a search.

about a month ago

"BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

bware Re:How is this viable as an attack medium? (205 comments)

I have heard of this first hand. Plug in a USB device to see who to return it to, and not long after, security (computer and otherwise) pay you a visit to personally demonstrate the computer security policies you were supposed to learn from the online video training.

about a month and a half ago

A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

bware Re:Subject bait (379 comments)

It took some time to the techs to realize that physics would severely constrain us[...]

The physicists knew that from the beginning.

about 2 months ago

Theater Chain Bans Google Glass

bware Re:Alama being sensationalist again... (376 comments)

Thing is, no one minds someone discrtely checking there phone for a few seconds with the light dimmed to the lowest setting

I mind.

about 3 months ago

NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

bware Re:Ethical is irrelevant. (402 comments)

Not detracting from what the colonists did, but they knew that they only needed to pack enough food and water for the voyage and the settlement time, plus the knowledge they could breath was an additional bonus.

And they also didn't require many billions of dollars of taxpayer funding to support their one-way trip - they paid their own way.

If someone wants to build a rocket to Mars in their backyard using their own funding, then go ahead, and any ethical considerations are your own, with the caveat that local and federal prosecutors might have different opinions than yours.

That said, another analogy is that we don't allow institutions to perform medical experiments on people that will cause harm to them, even if they volunteer with full knowledge of the consequences. We, as a society, consider this to be immoral.

While I know that society often puts people in positions where harm might very well occur (test pilots, astronauts, medical procedures), the usual assumption is that every effort will be made to prevent harm. I'm struggling to discern how this is different.

It may be - it's just with two minutes thought, I'm not able to articulate why it's ok to kill an astronaut on a one-way mission and it isn't to kill a person in a medical experiment that might well save lives. Because in the latter case, it's definitely something society has decided not to allow.

about 5 months ago

One Person Successfully Removed From US No-Fly List

bware Re:Hack it to add American names like "John Smith" (286 comments)

you can bet they have to notify the people who maintain the no-fly list.

I would not bet that - the FBI couldn't find me once when it was a simple matter of looking up my name in a phonebook, back when those were still a thing. As I said, incompetence and stupidity abound, as they do in any bureacratic organization.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that legal name changes are (or are not) monitored by TLAs - either way. But I wouldn't bet the success of my plan to take over the world on the lack of it.


about 6 months ago

One Person Successfully Removed From US No-Fly List

bware Re:Hack it to add American names like "John Smith" (286 comments)

Since 2003, it is not so easy to change your name anymore. While in the US, for the most part, you can simply use any name you want, if you want a new passport, you'll have to go before a judge and it's going to cost you about a grand.

Having dealt with various TLAs, it's not difficult for me to believe that they don't have any monitoring system in place for this - incompetence, ignorance, and stupidity abound. On other hand, if I had evil intent in mind and didn't want to get caught, I don't think I'd want to risk triggering this. Far easier to use a mispelled version of your name...

about 6 months ago

The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector

bware Re:Resonant Detector (70 comments)

'95-ish? That's the first meeting I remember where there was a realistic attempt to propose something to NASA. I don't think there wasn't much research funding before that. Not that long a history.

Mostly the cost estimates have gone up, especially after the scrutiny brought by JWST overruns brought more honest costing. It was always going to be a flagship mission. We could debate whether eLISA is actually going to save that much money over the combined US/ESA LISA proposed in Astro2010, which we cast as the sweet spot of science per dollar.

And as far as eLISA and 2034, well, I ain't holding my breath for funding profiles that far in the future. Actuarially, it's unlikely that it'll fly in my lifetime (scientifically, and otherwise). So for me, not better than nothing.

about 6 months ago

The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector

bware Re:Resonant Detector (70 comments)

[...] note that it is at a frequency where there are not a lot of expected sources

There are sources in that range, thus LISA. Galactic black holes merging, inspirals of stellar mass objects by galactic black holes.

LISA was a high pick in the DOA Astro2010 Decadal, now sacrificed on the altar of HSF and JWST.

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

bware Re:Lego Mindstorms (876 comments)

We do this as well, with Simulink/Matlab, and LabVIEW. Yeah, it would be great if we all knew VHDL, but then we'd be VHDL programmers, not scientists.

We get things working and tested with (very expensive - trading time for money) hardware in LabVIEW, come up with a Simulink model that matches the LabVIEW, then hand it off to a VHDL guy who generates the FPGA code from that. It would be nice if LabVIEW generated usable VHDL but it doesn't. But it's also nice to have a model to play with, and LabVIEW is better at hardware, Simulink better at modeling.

Even so, it's been a bit of a problem getting the final VHDL FPGA to exactly match the results of the tested hardware-in-the-loop LabVIEW and Simulink simulations. Fencepost errors, quantization mismatches, etc.

If we had just handed the requirements to a VHDL person, maybe we'd have something that worked [1], but that person would have been the only one who understood it or been able to experiment with it. This way, ten scientists have been able to use, change, model, and eyeball the algorithms, and see the results, without any of them having to learn VHDL.

[1] maybe not. We tried that experiment, and it almost worked, but the programmer who wrote it moved on to another project before it was debugged, and we were left with code that no one else wanted to start with.

about 7 months ago

How the NSA Is Harming America's Economy

bware Re:tough love (330 comments)

Snowden is a giant monkey wrench in that; He's done more to harm America than pretty much anyone since the turn of the century save perhaps Osama Bin Laden, if we want to count out dollars on it. I hope they find him and make him suffer for a long time, slowly. He claims to be a patriot, but he's done most damage than our biggest enemies.

Maybe was the spying that did the damage.

about 9 months ago

How Safe Is Cycling?

bware Re:It would be safer if cyclists followed traffic (947 comments)

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of cyclists I've seen in the last year who haven't run red lights and stop signs or otherwise ignored basic safety and traffic laws.

I will happily furnish two chairs and as much liquor as you can drink, and we'll sit at the stop sign next to my house. One block away from a school, and one block away from a heavily frequented park. In a residential historic neighborhood with home values approaching seven figures. Speed bumps on almost every street.

You chug a beer every time a car rolls through the stop sign. You down a shot every time someone blows through it without even slowing down. You take a sip when cars bottom out on the dips. Shot for people texting or talking on mobiles. Just a sip for speeding. You want to up the ante? Add a drink for failure to yield right-of-way, or honked horn.

I'll take a shot for every car that doesn't break the law in some fashion.

I'll go home in better shape than you, by far.

Everyday on my bike, someone tries to kill me. Often enough on purpose. On my bike, it's very unlikely that I'll kill or maim anyone, whether I follow the law or not. Every cyclist I've ever talked to who has been in an car/bike accident (and that's just about all of them) was following the law at the time of the accident. And the car wasn't. Guess who got injured?

So the hell with you. Cyclists rarely hurt anyone, and car drivers kill cyclists every day.

about a year ago

What the Surveillance State Does With Your Private Data

bware Re:Yeah, right (81 comments)

And where is the sharing of that information with Israel?

Pages 45, 47, 74, 78 (last two are references).

And where is the part where this is not surveillance, but directly hacking into personal machines and servers planting backdoors on them?

The title is "What the goverment does with Americans' data", not "How the government gets American's data".

I'm not arguing that what the NSA is doing is not evil, just that is not what this report addresses. However, one glaring omission is data-sharing with the DEA.

about a year ago

Cost of $634 Million — So Far

bware Re:A deal at twice the price (497 comments)

Servers from AWS or some other provider would provide capacity and cut back on costs

Can the government put HIPAA and PII information on AWS? I'm asking because I don't know. I can't use it, or Dropbox, or Google Docs, or any other cloud solution because ITAR. I'm assuming that's why they have to build their own servers and not use cloud services.

about a year ago


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