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Ars Takes an Early Look At the Privacy-Centric Blackphone

lancejjj Power and Performance (67 comments)

Blackphone is MY only way to go.

after all, how can I trust anything on any other device? The manufacturers and Google are very much interested in keeping a major part of their official ecosystems CLOSED SOURCE.

I am putting the keys to my kingdom on them: on-line banking, SSH, VPN, and all sorts of other stuff is accessed by my phone. Just a tiny bit of mystery code could be slurping up all these credentials and key data and storing it on the device... only to transmit it later via covert means (DNS requests or whatever). How do I know this is NOT happening? I don't. I need to have faith in the multitude of vendors and app authors. Vendors that I have no reason to trust.

Two factor authentication? HA! The second factor is ALSO on my phone. Sorry to say, that's ZERO FACTOR if someone already has code running as root on the device.

about 3 months ago
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Millions of Home Routers Are Hackable

lancejjj Secret (179 comments)

Here's the secret fix: change the default password on your home router.

Phew! Black hats thwarted again!

more than 4 years ago
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Verizon Hints At Scrapping Unlimited Data Plans

lancejjj Re:SMS != data (319 comments)

SMS messages are squeezed into unused space in control packets that the phones and towers exchange normally even if there's no call happening. So on GSM networks, SMS isn't data and incurs no cost at all to the operator. SMS should be completely free on GSM providers.

I agree that there is little if not zero "tower-to-handset" bandwidth cost for SMS messaging.

However, SMS (and MMS) messaging does depend on all that infrastructure that's in place, and by providing SMS services, the telcos are required to reliably route and deliver the messages around the world. That message handling and routing certainly has a cost, and therefore I believe that providers have a right to fairly pass on a portion of the cost of their infrastructure investments (plus a fair profit) to the users of SMS services.

HOWEVER, I am no apologist here. At least in the USA, providers charge very high fees for text messages. If I send a 15 character text message to my wife, we get charged $0.40. A few pennies may be fair, but far more than $0.39 of that $0.40 is profit. Furthermore, SMS is configured to be parasitic - my friends (and spammers) like to send me text messages without my authorization. That costs me $0.20 every time, and there is no way for me to stop them without giving up my wireless service altogether.

What is even more disturbing is that all the telcos in the US have generally increased their SMS rates to a new high. They now charge the same outrageous fee ($0.20 in, $0.20 out), leading me to believe that instead of competing, they are colluding.

In short, telcos have decided (individually or together) not to compete in this area, to the detriment of all telco customers. Laws should be considered to encourage fair and healthy competition in this space, which will encourage healthy SMS industry growth and efficiencies.

more than 4 years ago
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Verizon Hints At Scrapping Unlimited Data Plans

lancejjj Re:I Have A Question (319 comments)

What happens if you're using a 3G Microcell over your existing broadband connection?

Well, it depends.

If you want that 3G Microcell to connect to the Verizon network, and have Verizon route and manage the connections and otherwise provide reliable data or voice transport service through Verizon's infrastructure on the back-end, then you should expect Verizon to charge you for that service.

On the other hand, if you do NOT want Verizon to provide that service to you, you simply don't need to use the Microcell device. In that case, you will not be using any of Verizon's infrastructure, and Verizon won't charge you any per-use charge of any kind. That's right: completely FREE.

Pretty sweet, eh?

more than 4 years ago
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Adobe Stops Development For iPhone

lancejjj Apple: When will it end? (497 comments)

This is ominous to the iPhone user. Next I expect to hear that ActiveX and Real will be booted from the iPhone, and then we'll never get anything done. The iPhone simply doesn't support ALL of the web.

And it doesn't stop there. I bet that MS-Office macros will be considered a programming language, and then will be booted off ot the Mac!

This is the END! I'm tired of these control games.

more than 4 years ago
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Anti-Piracy Windows 7 Update Phones Home Quarterly

lancejjj Re:The 1960s called... (819 comments)

This is not unlike IBM charging for use of their hardware and software on a per cycle basis.

Yes, I remember that too. Billing by CPU time was an IBM lease option. They'd charge you back per CPU cycle. It was a great incentive for IT departments to write efficient code. If you were maxing out your mainframe's CPU, IBM would give you a more powerful one. But your goal, as a programmer, was to minimize CPU consumption.

Of course, if you outright owned the machine, there was no such chargeback.

The IBM program was used by IT departments to manage their mainframe utilization, and to effectively lease mainframe time instead of having to take the risk of buying a $250k+ machine and running out of CPU capacity.

WAT & WGA is nothing like the IBM program. At all. In any way.

more than 4 years ago
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Iran Suspends Google's Email Service

lancejjj Could be worse. (436 comments)

An Iranian official said the measure was meant to boost local development of Internet technology and to build trust between people and the government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Well, it could be worse: they could have said "We've decided to go with Microsoft Exchange".

Given the uproar in my office when we went to Exchange, that surely would have sparked a full-scale revolution. The one good thing to get out of it: the new Exchange admins all have more attractive resumes now.

more than 4 years ago
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The Fourth Amendment and the Cloud

lancejjj Dumb idea anyhow. (174 comments)

[T]he service provider has a copy of the keys to a user's cloud 'storage unit'

Why the hell would I want to give a copy of the keys to the service provider?

Just because you use the cloud to store bits of data doesn't mean that you'd want to store unencrypted bits of data there. Those that do risk distribution of your unencrypted data via a multitude of channels, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Cloud configuration errors
  • Service Policy changes
  • Service Security failures
  • Data theft by administrators
  • Service scanning and reselling of your data

Why would anyone hand the keys to all their important data to a 3rd party that they don't personally know? Just because they're under a contract with that 3rd party? A contract drawn up exclusively by that 3rd party? With clauses designed to exclusively to protect that 3rd party?

more than 4 years ago
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Apple Kicks HDD Marketing Debate Into High Gear

lancejjj Clarifying the confusion (711 comments)

The desktop support dude knows what's going on. He knows that GB values, as printed on the box, is always optimistic from the marketers vantage point.

The computer science dude already thinks in hexadecimal, so the casual mention of a number like 12 GB is intrinsically confusing. Is the "12" base-10? Is the "10" in "base-10" decimal? Or is it "base 0F+1"?

Everyone else just gives $127.39 to the GeekSquad weenie for installation. They think in dollars, and want to know how many pictures will fit.

about 5 years ago
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Palm Pre Reports Your Location and Usage To Palm

lancejjj Re:Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb? (314 comments)

Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb?

I only get paid to attack particular businesses and politicians.

I'm sure the hell not going to bother to attack someone else for free. Someone has to pay for it.

more than 5 years ago
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Apple Working On Tech To Detect Purchasers' "Abuse"

lancejjj Privacy Concerns? Absolutely! (539 comments)

however the idea of sensors inside your portable devices detecting what you do with them might raise eyebrows even beyond the tinfoil-hat community

Which is a discomforting potential invasion of privacy?

  • Manufacturer knowing if a computer has been submersed in water, or subject to -40 temperatures, or experienced 100+G shock, when machine is submitted for warranty claim.
  • A car that "remembers" your speed, driving time, and radio volume at the time of a crash.
  • Cell phone company selling your detailed inbound and outbound call record + your location when call was made/received
  • Credit card company selling your detailed purchase history, knowing that you bought Pampers 24 pack on sale at a particular time and place.
  • Bringing your PC into GeekSquad for repair

All of these happen today. Your letter to your senator is WAY TO LATE.

more than 5 years ago
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DIY CPU Thermal Grease, Using Diamond Dust

lancejjj This diamond paste project FAILS (210 comments)

Arctic Silver with a fresh application: System Max load 57c
Diamond Grease with a fresh application: System Max load 38c

The author notes that the fancy diamond paste results in LESS heat at the heat sink.

Conclusion: The home-made paste is more of an insulator than the commercial stuff, as the same amount of heat is being generated, but that heat just isn't making it to the heat sink!

more than 5 years ago
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Student Sues University Because She's Unemployable

lancejjj Re:Depressing, but not uncommon (1251 comments)

Little miss entitlement got a "Bachelor of Business Administration" in "IT". What the hell does that even mean?

I wish that all people with Computer Science degrees would remove the stick from their butt.

You have an excess of hubris there buddy. Like you, I have an MS in Computer Science from a name-brand university. But undoubtably many smart and competent people have a degree in "Business Administration with a concentration in IT".

I don't feel the right or privilege to demean people that simply have a different degree than my own. I've worked with plenty of very smart and capable people with degrees in "business", "IT", political science, literature, psychology, music, etc. Or no degrees at all.

Perhaps those with a "Bachelor of Business Administration in IT" aren't required to take any compiler or algorithm courses or countless advanced mathematics courses. Then again, maybe some do take them for their program and/or as electives. Maybe people with such a degree are smart enough to pick up the essentials without taking a course on the subject. You simply can't judge a person or program based on the name of his or her concentration/major.

One of the brightest, fastest, and hardest working OS programmers I ever worked with only went through an ITT Tech certificate program. You'd likely laugh at his credentials, but he picked up a lot of the theory on his own, and he'd kick the butts of most people I know with advanced CS degrees.

more than 5 years ago
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The Ethics of Selling GPLed Software For the iPhone

lancejjj No Worries! (782 comments)

one of the original developers of XPilot told us he feels adamantly that we're betraying the spirit of the GPL by charging for it

No, you're not.

You're betraying what he feels is the spirit of the GPL. However, the GPL was specifically designed to allow for such charging. If he didn't like the GPL, he and the other "original" developers should have chosen a different license. The fact that he didn't understand what rights he was transferring by choosing the GPL is his own fault.

I appreciate that this developer is put off by your fees. However, he is free to take your efforts (the GPL'd code you've published) and release the application for free.

I think you've gone above and beyond by hearing the guy out and expressing your concerns. However, you're following the rules HE set out.

more than 5 years ago
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Best Home Backup Strategy Now?

lancejjj Re:Differential + hard drive - online (611 comments)

All of the online backup strategies are a joke. Due to bandwidth restrictions, it would take years just to make a backup of a typical user's hard drive, and they don't offer enough space (seriously).

This is, in a word, wrong.

I have been using an online backup service for my brother's computer. I used to run rsync via cron and retain deleted files, but it was a pain in my butt, so last year I just had him spend the $60/year for an on-line backup service.

This past Thursday his PC's drive died - completely unrecoverable, unrepairable, toast.

The backup service in use had his 200 GB of user data. We popped in a new drive, installed the OS, downloaded the back-up files over the weekend, and now he's back in business. None of his documents were lost.

Was bandwidth too low to recover his data? No. Did it take years to backup and/or restore? No, but it did take a couple days to download it all. Was there space limitations on the service? No.

Did it save all his family photos, documents, email archive and music library? Yes.

more than 5 years ago
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Classilla, a New Port of Mozilla To Mac OS 9

lancejjj Re:Who cares? (170 comments)

Sadly, schools run all this 10+ year old hardware because no one bothers to give them better old hardware.

My school just got thirty used 2005-vintage iMacs from a local business that upgraded their machines to the latest and greatest. Businesses swap out old hardware frequently, and we have a local volunteer that prepares the old machines for new uses.

They clean up the old hardware, test it, and install stock software (OS X, FireFox, Office, etc).

It's a hell of a lot better to spend money on teaching instead of equipment.

more than 5 years ago
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Funding For Automotive Fuel Cells Cut

lancejjj Re:Stupid, Stupid, Stupid (293 comments)

The U.S. sits between 2 of the largest sources of Hydrogen on this planet. Dangerous to ship? How about shipping it as Water? Then at the "Filling Station" Use Solar, and or Wind Electricity to separate the Hydrogen out. This is already being done in Norway.

The problem is ENERGY EFFICIENCY, not SAFETY. There is no science or technology that suggests that a H2 fuel cell is going to be nearly as efficient in a car as, say, an internal combustion engine. The only advantage of the fuel cell is that you can obtain the H2 from many sources. In contrast, the current fleet is powered by oil/fossil fuels alone.

Not surprisingly, there are other energy storage technologies, such as batteries, which can be more efficient and lower cost than a fuel cell.

Fuel cells are a great technology for some applications, but they don't make sense for cars.

more than 5 years ago
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Your Commuting Costs By Car Vs. Train?

lancejjj Inflation (1137 comments)

My first new car was a $20,000 Honda CR-V. After 10 years, I sold it for $6000; that's an average of only $1400 per year.

You forgot about the changing value of the dollar over time - inflation. Let's say you bought your CR-V in 1995 and sold it in 2005. $20000 in 2005 had the purchasing power of $25,600 in 1995. Let's use 2005 dollars for your depreciation calculations. (We could just as easily use 1995 dollars in all calculations; the results will be identical.)

($25600 - $6000) ÷ 10 years = $1960 per year, in 2005 dollars.

You're right: the depreciation costs of your CRV was way under $3000, but it was a roughly 33% more than your $1400 estimate.

Note that Real Estate brokers also like you to ignore inflationary costs when trying to sell you property. Watch out and do the full calculation. Inflation is "real" and absolutely impacts the finances of everything you buy, sell, or hold.

more than 5 years ago
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Your Commuting Costs By Car Vs. Train?

lancejjj Re:Some More Numbers (1137 comments)

I always thought, "Are they trying to get people to drive drunk?"

Think "get a cab".

more than 5 years ago
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College Police Think Using Linux Is Suspicious Behavior

lancejjj Re:Very sadly, IMHO (1079 comments)

I noticed the door to the game room was ajar. I went in and started playing video games with a few of my friends.

Turns out I tripped a silent alarm. About 15 minutes in, campus police busted in and threw us up against the wall at gunpoint. No kidding, I had a gun pressed against the base of my skull.

It's unthinkable that a cop would put a college scholar against a wall at gunpoint for playing a recreational game with his colleagues.

However, I would fully support them for taking down a group of scuzzy illegal aliens that are found breaking and entering at a pretigious institution of higher learning.

I assume you're in the first category.

more than 5 years ago

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