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NYT: NSA Put 100,000 Radio Pathway "Backdoors" In PCs

ltwally Re:Where are they? (324 comments)

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:
RJ-45
8P8C

about 10 months ago
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AMD Intentionally Added Artificial Limitations To Their HDMI Adapters

ltwally Re:Why? (256 comments)

"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.

about a year ago
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AMD Intentionally Added Artificial Limitations To Their HDMI Adapters

ltwally Re:Why? (256 comments)

"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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvi
http://www.diffen.com/difference/DVI_vs_HDMI

HDMI and DVI are electrically identical and partially protocol compatible.

Physically differences:
*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.

Protocol differences:
*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.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For Non-US Based Email Providers?

ltwally Re:Runbox.com (410 comments)

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.

Pros:

  1. Respectable mailbox size (10 gigs), more available for extra $$
  2. Large attachments (100 megs), though very few other mailservers will be able to handle more than a third of that
  3. Respectable feature set (filters, aliases, etc etc)
  4. 1 gig FTP account
  5. small HTTP account, with CPanel
  6. Decent prices

Cons:

  1. 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.

about a year ago
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Your preferred Linux distribution for 2013?

ltwally Re:Fedora (627 comments)

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.

about a year ago
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SF Airport Officials Make Citizen Arrests of Internet Rideshare Drivers

ltwally Yet another reason... (510 comments)

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.

Source: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/

about a year ago
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Google Launches Cloud Printer Service For Windows

ltwally Re:Congrats, Unknown Lamer... (135 comments)

"Find a computer with an install of any of the major linux distributions, fire up a web browser, and point it to http://localhost:631/"

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 cupsd.conf

# to the Listen section, attach port 631 to all NICs
Port 631

# place outside of any other sections, enable Web Interface
WebInterface Yes

# place outside of any other sections, disable HTTPS
DefaultEncryption Never

# to <Location />
Allow all

# to <Location /admin>
Allow all

# to <Location /admin/conf>
Allow all

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.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Light-Footprint Antivirus For Windows XP?

ltwally Re:Clamwin (294 comments)

...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.

about a year ago
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Plug Touts Expandable Storage Via USB Drives Plugged In At Home

ltwally 30 Mbps (87 comments)

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.

about a year ago
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AMD Making a 5 GHz 8-Core Processor At 220 Watts

ltwally Re:Poor AMD... (271 comments)

According to 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
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New Seagate Hybrid Drives Hampered By Slow Mechanical Guts

ltwally Re:semi serious question (130 comments)

...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
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New Seagate Hybrid Drives Hampered By Slow Mechanical Guts

ltwally Re:semi serious question (130 comments)

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
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Ask Slashdot: How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave?

ltwally Hard Drive (547 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago
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MD5crypt Password Scrambler Is No Longer Considered Safe

ltwally FreeBSD .... (212 comments)

"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.

more than 2 years ago
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HP Shows Off Power Over Ethernet Thin Client

ltwally Re:The Takeaway (202 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What's a Good Tool To Detect Corrupted Files?

ltwally Re:right filesystem (247 comments)

The best filesystem to survive a crash is a filesystem designed for an operating system that is expected to crash: NTFS.

more than 2 years ago
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China Plans National, Unified CPU Architecture

ltwally windfall (240 comments)

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).

more than 2 years ago
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Expect Hundreds of Thunderbolt Devices, Says Intel

ltwally schmuck (351 comments)

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?

more than 2 years ago
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Microsoft Tried To Buy Netscape: Suppose They Had?

ltwally Re:Mozilla/Firefox Anyway (246 comments)

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.

about 3 years ago
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Cisco's Tablet Act Like a Desktop

ltwally Actually, sounds like a good idea (120 comments)

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.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

ltwally hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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More NT Admin woes

ltwally ltwally writes  |  more than 11 years ago I just had my NT Server Admin prof try to tell me that Windows 2000 cannot mount FAT12 partitions. What?! Does he think that 2k can't read floppy disks!?! I kindly pointed out that FAT12 is Microsoft's (and many others') format for floppy disks. He then asked if NT4 could also read it.

baaah!

Windows NT Server Admin: taught by morons, for morons.

And that's all I have to say 'bout that.

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English & Sleep Depravation

ltwally ltwally writes  |  more than 11 years ago It's approximately 6:21am. And after pulling an all-nighter for my gay english class, I'd like to thank my professor (this means you Susan Latta) for being a wench from the depths of hades.

May you return to wence you came soon.

BTW: Whoever invented caffeine, I'd like to dedicate my firstborne child to you.

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Pain and NT Server Admin

ltwally ltwally writes  |  more than 11 years ago Today is Tuesday. To me, that means three things:

    • Sleep in late; I don't have to get up until noon. :)
    • My current favorite show (the Shield) is on tv tonight, after i get home from...
    • PURE PAIN; my Tuesday evening NT Server Admin class.

    I swear... I used to like the NT line. I really did. Until I entered this class, and observed how it seems to promote stupidity. All these prof's teach are the simplest, most terrible ways of doing things. Security!? NAAW! Surely Microsoft has thought of that for us!

    Just shoot me. Please. Really. Somebody shoot me.

    I have to get back to class now... we're installing 2k Server. Yippee! (as if a band of roving chimps couldn't manage this)

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monitor

ltwally ltwally writes  |  more than 11 years ago Ok, I'm not going to waste too much time writing this.. I've got a hankering to go play Counter-Strike . I just wanted to drop a line to anyone that would ever read through this thing: if you don't already have a high-end monitor, do yourself a favor and go buy a NEC Multisync FP2141-SB. This thing is incredible. What isn't to love about an incredibly high-end 22" monitor? ;) Trust me.. if you spend all day staring at a computer monitor (like I tend to), then this thing is worth the price-tag.

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NT Server Admin and pain

ltwally ltwally writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Ok.. so I've had this /. account for years now.. and never once thought of writing in my journal. That is, up until I took this NT Server Admin class. This class is THREE HOURS LONG. My GOD, I can feel my IQ dropping just by being here.

So I'm sitting here... in lab.. with a migrane.. watching a professor try to describe the bootstrap process to the largest group of lusers I've ever witnessed in one location. I'm sitting here, and playing with the backdoors on this 2k box. Ok now... I'll admit.. I actually like Windows 2000. Well... I at least like it for a workstation. But what kinds of morons put an admin account on a system named 'backdoor' and then gives it a password 'backdoor'? And, to make it even more fun.. it isn't a local account. It's a domain-wide account. So I've got access to all these boxen, and I'm pondering how many others have it, too? Who knows... I don't really care what worm infects this network. My point is: I've finally come to accept the truth. Windows really does help breed stupidity. It took me a while to get here... but once the conclusion was made, it can't be unmade.

Well, I've got to go... they're going to show us how to log in to these computers now. After all, it's a 400-level class and it's the third week of the s'mester! We're a week behind here!! (sarcasm very much intended)


ps. I wonder if anyone would notice if replaced Win2k with FreeBSD.

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