top NYT: NSA Put 100,000 Radio Pathway "Backdoors" In PCs
I got a laugh this morning watching NBC's morning show. Some reporter was talking about how some of these devices were embedded in USB cables. "Like these," he said, as he held up a RJ-45 ethernet cable.
I got a laugh this morning reading
/.. Some nerd was talking about how some reporter couldn't tell an ethernet cable from a USB cable, and mistakenly called it "RJ-45".
It's ok. You're just not nerd enough to know: RJ-45 is for phone. It is a similar (and physically compatible) form factor to the 8P8C plug commonly used for ethernet cabling.
For further reading:
top AMD Intentionally Added Artificial Limitations To Their HDMI Adapters
"I've never had a card send audio out a DVI port..."
This is not a limitation of the DVI port -- though it would be a limitation of DVI devices connected to it -- it is simply that most video cards do not waste silicon to allow features on a DVI port that DVI devices could not handle.
This does not change the fact that the underlying electrical specifications are identical between DVI and HDMI, nor does it change the fact that the protocol they are speaking is essentially the same. Only the features supported on that protocol are different.
HDMI == DVI + HDCP + audio
... though more recent versions of HDMI have increased the allowed signalling rates, for increased refresh rates and resolutions beyond 1080p.
Personally speaking, I hope that DVI is updated, and soon. As much of an improvement as DisplayPort is on a technical level, I'd prefer to keep DVI around for backward compatibility and interpolability with HDMI.
top AMD Intentionally Added Artificial Limitations To Their HDMI Adapters
"Pretty sure no, because DVI and HDMI signalling is very much different. DVI has dedicated red, green, and blue wires, over which it sends a synchronized bitstream of sub-pixels. HDMI uses those three wires as generic data channels, which are used in parallel to send packets containing pixels, or audio data, or whatever you want. DVI and HDMI are physical compatible, but not electronically."
Me thinks you need to read some specifications before posting. Here's a couple primers:
HDMI and DVI are electrically identical and partially protocol compatible.
*Their connectors are physically incompatible and require a converter plug.
*Also, DVI potentially supports a legacy VGA analogue signal on the connector. Few actual DVI cables carry this signal, but it is often available on the video card, which then needs a converter plug to plug into a VGA cable.
*HDMI includes support for DRM (HDCP) and audio. These are not supported by DVI devices, though they can be forwarded through a DVI connector to an HDMI device.
*HDMI has had several revisions, which allow for increased clocking and greater bitdepth. I would not expect these revisions to be supported by DVI devices. However, I've never had reason to look into this, so cannot comment further.
The converter (plug) between HDMI and DVI is known as a
passive converter, because it has no active electronics inside. All it does is allow two separate types of plugs to connect. Differentiate this with a DVI/HDMI to DisplayPort covnerter, which is active, because HDMI/DVI and DisplayPort have completely different electrical specifications and protocols, even though they are both digital.
top Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For Non-US Based Email Providers?
Until two months ago, I was a Runbox subscriber for over 10 years. So I can offer a pretty good review of the standard account.
Respectable mailbox size (10 gigs), more available for extra $$ Large attachments (100 megs), though very few other mailservers will be able to handle more than a third of that Respectable feature set (filters, aliases, etc etc) 1 gig FTP account small HTTP account, with CPanel Decent prices
From anywhere in the continental United States: Slow. Slow SMTP, Slow POP3.
Perhaps it's because of the transatlantic nature of the connection. Perhaps they just have a slow service. But it's only gotten slower over the years. Eventually it became enough to drive me away.
top Your preferred Linux distribution for 2013?
The last time I worked with Fedora (about 4 months ago), I had a technical issue with a version that was 2 releases prior. (For those who don't know, Fedora brings out a major release about every six months.)
Finding no help on Google or Fedora's website, I went to their IRC channel.
There were 150+ users logged in (though who knows how many were actively watching their screens). I politely explained the scenario and asked my question, only to be harassed by several of the forum members. Apparently they don't want to answer questions for anything beyond the previous release. These people actively sought out a sysop to have me kicked from the channel. Simply for asking a question for a version that was maybe a year out of date. The very worst linux zealot attitude, which I'd thought long gone these days, alive and well in the official Fedora channel.
If you don't update to the latest version -- regardless of what reason you may for not being willing/able to do so -- they do not want to hear from you, let alone actually assist you.
That experience was enough to convince me that I don't want anything to do Fedora. Because when there are issues, I don't want to be ostracised for asking for help.
top SF Airport Officials Make Citizen Arrests of Internet Rideshare Drivers
Yet another reason that I'm glad that I do not live in California. Because apparently, somehow, every civilian has what amounts to very nearly full arrest powers in California. Yeah... That couldn't go terribly wrong or be abused.
837. A private person may arrest another:
1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in his presence.
3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.
top Google Launches Cloud Printer Service For Windows
"Find a computer with an install of any of the major linux distributions, fire up a web browser, and point it to
In the main, that works. However, it should be noted that support for CUPS-HTTP-ADMIN varies from distribution to distribution, and even from version to version.
What I find (seriously) annoying is that if CUPS-HTTP-ADMIN is enabled, it's always defaulted to localhost only. That may be fine for a desktop... but in case no one ever told the CUPS folks (and the folks creating server linux distros), sometimes linux is used on servers.
To that end, here is my own cheat-sheet on getting CUPS-HTTP-ADMIN on the LAN:
# add the following to
# to the Listen section, attach port 631 to all NICs
# place outside of any other sections, enable Web Interface
# place outside of any other sections, disable HTTPS
# to <Location />
# to <Location /admin>
# to <Location /admin/conf>
Yes, it's in shorthand. No, it's not super-duper-secure. Because I have yet to see CUPS-HTTP-ADMIN be an actual attack vector. No, this is obviously not for a public facing linux box.
PS, don't forget to open up TCP 631 on whatever firewall is on your linux machine.
top Ask Slashdot: Light-Footprint Antivirus For Windows XP?
...but it's good for when you need it to do the occasional scans of programs or program updates you download...
Once upon a time we used Clam for an email scanner on our inbound mailserver. It was totally insufficient -- it does not catch the majority of what's actually "in-the-wild", which is what you most need antivirus for. Nothing is bullet-proof, but Clam doesn't cut it. Not even for free.
Now, that was scanning our email. How does that differ from being used on a PC? Well, for one thing, Clam/ClamWin does not have a resident-memory / on-access scanning ability, so unlike our email scanner, there is no way to guarantee it would scan everything. Secondly, if it wasn't good enough to protect our email, you can be darn sure it won't be good enough to protect your email + everything else.
I'd truly like it if Clam / ClamWin was great. It just isn't. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
top Plug Touts Expandable Storage Via USB Drives Plugged In At Home
From the article:
"The device includes a USB 2.0 port and a 10/100 Ethernet port with an average transfer speed of 30Mbps"
In what alternate reality is 30 megabit-per-second an acceptable speed for accessing terabytes of data? That's not even 4 MB/s of average transfer speed. That's not even fast enough to play a 1080p content, and a goodly amount of 720p content.
You want me to even consider a device like this? It needs to have USB 3.0 support, a gigabit link and be able to reliably push at least 500mbit in both directions (device dependant). If that raises the price, then the price needs to be raised - because under 4 MB/s is simply not an acceptable transfer speed. For crying out loud, hard drives have been faster than that for over 20 years.
top AMD Making a 5 GHz 8-Core Processor At 220 Watts
Wikipedia, AMD is worth $4.5b. Possibly more. Perhaps Apple could convince their shareholders to take less. But we'll call it $4.5b for our purposes.
You think Apple wants to spend that much money to acquire a microprocessor company? A microprocessor company that
doesn't even have its own fabrication plants? A microprocessor company that is noticeably lagging behind their main competitors: Intel and nVidia? Whatever your feelings towards AMD, you cannot refute that their market share has been on a decline the past few years, and that the Bulldozer lineup has not been able to resuscitate them.
About the only truly positive aspect for Apple would be that they would also get the ATI assets as well. But that's a double-edged sword. What if the ATI lineup slides? As things are, they can easily switch to nVidia GPU's. If they bought out AMD, they'd have little choice to be to stick with ATI gpu's no matter how good or bad things got.
And let's not forget, there are certainly some folks at Apple that were around for the joys of the G5 series -- another processor that was effectively a space-heater. They had problems with that, and took some flack for that. I imagine they'd like to avoid that unpleasant memory.
Personally, I would be shocked if Apple wanted to spend $4.5b, end a successful relationship with Intel, only to acquire a less efficient and often less powerful CPU lineup without acquiring a chip foundry as well. If there was the fabrication plant in there, then perhaps they could use it to make their own ARM chips for their phones/tablets. But they don't even get that.
about a year and a half ago
top New Seagate Hybrid Drives Hampered By Slow Mechanical Guts
...The disk access patterns for most desktop users do take enough advantage of this to make the increased cost worthwhile.
Meant to say "The disk access patterns for most desktop users do
NOT take enough advantage of this to make the increased cost worthwhile."
Someone hack an edit button onto this damn site already. Get with '90s, already.
about a year and a half ago
top New Seagate Hybrid Drives Hampered By Slow Mechanical Guts
Why are we not seeing more 10K drives? Other than the WD Raptors, I haven't seen 10K desktop drives in forever.
I would think it would be a better compromise, am I missing something?
There are two sides to traditional hard-disk performance: rotational-speed and areal-density. While both increase performance of the disk, they do so in different ways...
Rotational Speed, measured in RPMs, primarily affects random access/seek times -- allowing the disk heads to move to a new location more quickly. This is handy when there is heavy fragmentation (which should never be allowed to happen) or when the data files themselves have lots of non-consecutive data (like in databases). Higher rotational speed will increase transfer speeds... but not nearly so much as most folks think it will. The disk access patterns for most desktop users do take enough advantage of this to make the increased cost worthwhile.
Areal Density, measured in bits/m^2 or bits/in^2, primarily effects continuous transfer speed -- you get to read/write large files more quickly. This will help you more quickly transfer files on your network (though many/most disks can easily enough saturate gigabit ethernet, these days) or load large files into memory, such as the case for video games or other applications with large resource files. Areal density does not have much of an impact on random seek times, and so those numbers haven't seen much improvement over the years. Improving areal density is something drive manufacturers have a keen interest in, as it allows them to build disks with more storage capacity, thereby decreasing the number of platters necessary for a given amount of space, and therefore dropping prices.
Also, keep in mind that, to keep friction/heat/wear-and-tear down, 10k RPM drives tend to have fewer and smaller platters than 7,200 & 5,400 RPM drives; they are hamstringed for storage space. Consider that we now have 4 TB 7,200 RPM drives on the market, but the largest 10k RPM drive is only 1 TB. And the price is about the same.
Both sides of the coin effect performance, but in different ways. Given the amount of time that 10k RPM SATA drives have been on the market, I think it's safe to say that these will never catch on, and that their price will always remain high. 15k RPM desktop drives is nothing but a pipe dream.
SSDs, on the other hand, have ludicrous transfer speeds married to access times that make a 15k RPM drives look pathetic. Their only two caveats seem to be storage space (they still can't keep with traditional hard disks on that, but they're catching up) and reliability. Though flash memory is far from ideal, we can expect both density and reliability to increase over time, even as their transfer rates continue to compete with small RAID arrays.
SSDs already outpace 10k & 15k RPM hard disks in ever measurement of speed. Given time, they will likely catch up in storage capacity and bytes-per-dollar. And, by the looks of it, that point in time is rapidly approaching.
about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave?
Remove or destroy your workstation's hard disk.
If you feel they might object to this, replace it with a new one and re-image the machine.
Next job: use Portable Apps
http://portableapps.com/ from a thumb-drive, and you won't have to worry about it.
top MD5crypt Password Scrambler Is No Longer Considered Safe
"The default algorithm for storing password hashes in
/etc/shadow is MD5. RHEL / CentOS / FreeBSD user can migrate to SHA-512 hashing algorithms."
FreeBSD has long (like, 10+ years) had support for Blowfish password hashes. Blowfish was a close second in the AES contest, and is quite strong. Enabling it only requires editing
/etc/login.conf and afterwards updating any pre-existing passwords.
top HP Shows Off Power Over Ethernet Thin Client
The takeaway from the article:
... which drops to 10/100 when using PoE, thereby making it only marginally useful for very thin applications.
You are incorrect, sir. 100mbit is rather more speed than is necessary for almost any
thin client use. RDP, for instance, transmits basic window metrics (ie. "draw a window at x1,y1,x2,y2", etc etc), so is highly bandwidth efficient. In fact, with no fancy GUI effects, RDP can run quite comfortably on 10mbit, or even less. I know this for a fact because I work remotely using RDP quite often.
Is 100mbit enough to run a RDP session displaying 1080p60 video? No. But, then, that isn't what RDP is for, and this things display only runs at 1366x768.
top Ask Slashdot: What's a Good Tool To Detect Corrupted Files?
The best filesystem to survive a crash is a filesystem designed for an operating system that is expected to crash: NTFS.
top China Plans National, Unified CPU Architecture
What if China goes the DIY route and makes its own ISA or microarchitecture with silicon-level censorship and monitoring, or an always-open backdoor for the Chinese intelligence agencies?
Can you say "windfall for US Intelligence" ??
The Chinese-Communists would have to be really,
really stupid to put a hardware back-door into their microprocessors. Such a hole is inevitable to be discovered and exploited by western intelligence, whether the means are covertly stealing the information or reverse-engineering. It practically guarantees that they could never trust any system with one of these chips in it. And it gets better -- even if the systems that those chips are in aren't themselves "sensitive", if they connect in any way to systems that are sensitive, they could be used as a means to compromise the sensitive systems.
You're talking about an oppressive regime that manages to keep 1.3 billion people happy enough to not revolt. You're talking about a regime that has managed to keep a $300b / year trade deficit
in their favour with the United States for the past 15 years (which, admittedly, says more about us than them). You're talking about a country with one of the largest militaries on the planet, and one of the fastest growing economies on the planet. We may not like them very much, but they sure don't seem to be fsck-ups enough to make that kind of mistake.
... Now, the possibility of them installing a hardware backdoor into products that they only sell to the West? That's an entirely different matter. But there is no way they'd want to use those same systems in their own infrastructure. And that's what this new "national" microchip is about -- a common ISA for their own internal use, to remove reliance on foreigners (that would be us).
top Expect Hundreds of Thunderbolt Devices, Says Intel
Which is why it is interesting to hear Intel predict that 'a hundred' Thunderbolt devices are expected to be on the market by the end of the year.
Intel designed Thunderbolt in conjunction with Apple. Which probably means Intel did most of the leg-work on it. How exactly is it "interesting" that Intel is promoting something they invented?
top Microsoft Tried To Buy Netscape: Suppose They Had?
Microsoft was buying Netscape just to screw it and shut it down. M$ evidently decided it was more profitable overall to just kill Netscape the way it did, with all monopolist crimes M$ was convicted of in 1999 - by which time Netscape was dead, because it worked.
A lot of people seem to forget that Netscape's CEO publicly stated that their goal was to create a platform/api that applications could run on, and make the underlying OS completely irrelevant. In the Bible/Torah, David defeated Goliath. But 99.9% of the time, when the little punk challenges the big kid on the block, the punk gets creamed.
That doesn't make MS's behaviour right. But in any rational human being, it burns off your sympathy for Netscape.
top Cisco's Tablet Act Like a Desktop
Actually, this sounds like a good move on Cisco's part. Why?
1. Apple makes devices for the consumer market. They have never had good support for the enterprise, where an IT department needs to have the ability to lock down any and all devices on their network.
2. Cisco, however, has very strong ties to the enterprise market. This will give them a definite advantage in both marketing and knowing what features potential (corporate IT) clients will require.
3. Apple has proven that there is a (consumer) market sector for these types of devices. There is a chance that market will fall over to the corporate sector.
The fact is that some of the very features which would make this unattractive to the consumer market are requirements for the corporate/enterprise sector. Such as the ability to lock down the app-store, and place other restrictions and controls on the device's usage. The corporate sector is long accustomed to paying more for less, so the price isn't as big an issue as many here are making it.
At this point, I guess we will just have to see if a tablet is of any real use in the enterprise.
My suspicion is that, right now, that answer is mostly "no". Time will tell.