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FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft

rayd75 Re:Not an issue before green pointers became commo (445 comments)

No, laser light is very directional, and having it pointed at you during nightime flying is a very definite experience. Search youtube for "helicopter lasers" to see what I mean.

I don't need to watch a video because we agree. Lasers are very directional. Having even a low power one pointed into your eyes can be temporarily disabling or even catastrophic if you're doing sensitive work like keeping an aircraft or vehicle under control. I also fully believe that people are doing this. What I don't believe is that, with cheap (sub-$5) red pointers having been readily available for about 15 years, there's only now a sudden jump in occurrences. An explanation that makes far more sense is that with cheap green lasers (which can produce a visible beam) now widely available, pilots are reporting many more instances of "beam sightings" in addition to "direct hits." If a red laser pointer, which generally does not have a visible beam, misses your aircraft, you never know it. If a green one does, perhaps even at a considerable distance, you might still see it and have something to get excited about and report.

So we should ban green laser pointers, right?

I know you asked sarcastically, but there are "soft-band" options that society may have to consider if the problem grows. For instance, using green lasers for stargazing could be outlawed (e.g., forcing laser makers to not use this as a selling point). Additionally, pen/pointer-shaped form factors could be prohibited. Gun-mounted green lasers could be forced to have a rail switch. Hopefully the laws don't have to go this far though.

You made me consider a point I hadn't before and that's that the visibility of green lasers' beams likely encourages people to point them into the night sky. With a red pointer, there's not much visual incentive to do so. I hate it when I make a big long point and then have to consider changing my mind. :)

about 9 months ago
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FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft

rayd75 Re:Not an issue before green pointers became commo (445 comments)

1. most of the people caught pointing green lasers at aircraft have admitted to such.

Seems likely to me. How many people have been caught caught though? A dozen? A few hundred? By God, there's an epidemic of thousands upon thousands of people pointing lasers at aircraft and it's been skyrocketing over the last 3-5 years. (Even though the first readily available and stupidly-cheap red pointers were being sold for a couple of bucks at gas stations and the like 15 years ago.)

2. Yes, you can see the laser even if it isn't pointed directly at the aircraft. but in many cases the pilots report not seeing the pointer but the effects of the lasers on the cockpit windows. Keep in mind for example that over Los Angeles and surrounding areas there are probably at least one first time at night soloing Private Helictoper Pilot every week. If he were to lose sight of the horizon for even a minute or two that helicopter is coming down...

The first part of this statement, for me, only re-afirms my belief that people in general tend to report problems with the most dire, sensationalist spin because they feel like it's more likely to illicit a response. The latter sentence sounds as if you think you're arguing with someone who thinks it's ok for a pilot to have lasers shined into his eyes. For the record, I do not. I only believe the rash of reported incidents is exaggerated by the beam visibility of some non-red (often green) laser pointers.

3. Responsible people wouldn't be point lasers at the sky when they live near busy airports.

Agreed. Though, responsible people also wouldn't put 55W purple HID headlight bulbs into all 6 (low, high, fog) reflector-style housings on the front of their SUVs, nor would they bike around with a 1500 lumen strobe light strapped to their handle bars. Unfortunately, we have a shortage of responsible people.

about 9 months ago
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FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft

rayd75 Not an issue before green pointers became common. (445 comments)

So we should ban green laser pointers, right? Clearly, they're the problem since this wasn't happening when red pointers were all but the only option. No. The problem is that pilots, in the pitch black of night can see beams of green laser pointers off somewhere in the distance. With no useful reference for actual distance and nothing else in the night sky to compare it to, the pilots assume they're very nearby and must be being pointed at them. I have no doubt that some aircraft have had a beam enter the cabin or that some small number of pilots have witnessed a brief flash as a beam quickly crossed one of his or her eyes. That said, this is only now epidemic because pointers with visible beams are commonplace.

about 9 months ago
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Price of Amazon Prime May Jump To $119 a Year

rayd75 Brilliant strategy: Pay more for less (298 comments)

I find it interesting that this comes just as Amazon has fallen in love with hybrid shipping services such as UPS Mail Innovations and FedEx SmartPost for Prime delivery. These services utilize UPS or FedEx only to the destination city where your package is then handed off to the USPS for delivery. As a result, Prime "guaranteed" 2-day delivery has become "often 2-day" or "occasional 2-day" ...and now, they feel like this is worth more? Wow.

Oh, they still haven't dropped the magic word "guaranteed". Their offering to satisfy the guarantee is an additional month of inconsistent, slower than stated service.

about 10 months ago
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Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive

rayd75 Re:Intel the Problem (320 comments)

I haven't had to play with it, but our desktop support folks say that the XP virtualization in Windows 7 is fairly seamless. If they did something like that for an ARM version to have backwards compatibility I could see it working out. I don't know if that's even feasible though, since I assume hardware virtualization is a pretty big leap from OS virtualization.

Be careful to not confuse virtualization with emulation. To run x86 apps on ARM you'd need emulation which is an altogether different thing than virtualization. (at least in the common IT use of the terms) Unlike virtualization, emulation is very CPU-intensive so they'd be cutting the battery life of the RT down to at most that of the Pro while providing the user experience of a Pentium II. Their real mistake is taking their chance to start with a clean slate (ARM, RT) and slapping the Windows brand on. If they hadn't done that, every RT review wouldn't have an obligatory paragraph about how the thing runs "Windows" but it can't actually use any of the software you already have.

about 2 years ago
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Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab Won't Get Android 4.0

rayd75 Re:That's a big reason why I don't buy Android (333 comments)

Apple: ...non-English language support is in beta.
Media: Siri is in beta.
Suckers: I'll get Siri on my old iPhone when it comes out of beta!

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

rayd75 Re:Reassuring? (234 comments)

Why yes, we should trust CarrierIQ at their word for what their software does and does not do. Being closed source makes it quite difficult to verify their claims ...

True, the closed-source nature limits third party evaluation to sniffing LAN traffic. I'll be interested to hear more as the digging continues. As of now, all I've seen is that there are "references" to CarrierIQ in iOS. Lots of people seem to be making a leap that CarrierIQ's software is running on iOS. It's possible, but it doesn't seem likely for the company that completely shut-down the possibility of carrier-mandated apps on their phones.

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

rayd75 Re:Reassuring? (234 comments)

the (free, open) Android version is more akin to a rootkit

Carrier IQ is not free or open. The post you responded to was arguing that closed source is more difficult to analyse, which is clearly true. If Carrier IQ were open source, we would have known about it years ago, and we wouldn't need to reverse engineer it to figure out what, when and how it's doing what it does, and under what conditions the logs get transferred to remote servers, etc.

I would also argue that, as much as we dislike Carrier IQ, it isn't really a rootkit - the software itself makes no effort to hide its presence, which is one of the defining characteristics of a rootkit. Also, you say that the Android version has a "backdoor" - could you provide a reference for this? As far as I can see, this is not actually true, as it doesn't enable any secret authentication-bypassing remote access (which would be the very definition of a backdoor).

You're right and though the discussion was leaning that way, I didn't actually mean to take a position on open versus closed. No, the software in question doesn't technically meet the definition of a rootkit but I maintain that it's "akin" to one. It is not part of Android as released by Google, and although it doesn't alter APIs to hide itself (such as removing itself from process lists or filesystem calls), it's not an application that shows-up in the launcher, nor do users have any meaningful control over it. A backdoor provides a means for bypassing access control... and this software, as it's been seen on many Android devices, is a secret means of accessing data stored on or passed by (even over SSL) potentially PIN-secured, filesystem-encryped devices. It doesn't seem to be remotely initiated so maybe it's not a backdoor so much as a back window. They can't come in but they can stand outside and see everything you do.

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

rayd75 Re:Reassuring? (234 comments)

You might want to re-think what you said. How would we even KNOW about Carrier IQ if Android wasn't open enough to find out?

Um, by reading the "diagnostic and logging" screen that pops-up during the initial configuration of my phone? By looking at the logged data in the settings menu? The only thing that we've learned today is that the diagnostics and logging system in iOS is vaguely-tied to CarrierIQ. It's not been a secret that it's there and there's no evidence that it does anything more than what it discloses to every new user. Yesterday, it didn't have a name. Today, it does.

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

rayd75 Re:Reassuring? (234 comments)

I can put CyanogenMod on my Android handset. I can load ROMs based on carrier firmware that has CIQ removed.

Thanks to Open Source Software, I have this choice.

Agreed... but you represent maybe a couple percent of total Android users in regard to your ability and will to do that. My son tells me that Android runs great on his first gen iPhone... so I guess Android provides the same benefit to similarly-minded Apple users. The remaining ones are stuck with a "Automatically Send / Don't Send" radio button. What do the other 98% of Android device owners have?

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

rayd75 Re:Reassuring? (234 comments)

I've found it useful as an example for people who don't understand why we need free/open software. ...

You might want to re-think that after reading the article, including its updates. Ironically, the (closed, walled garden) Apple version appears to send only diagnostic data that could be conceivably used for legitimate troubleshooting of dropped calls and the like whereas the (free, open) Android version is more akin to a rootkit, complete with backdoor and key logger.

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

rayd75 Re:What!?! (234 comments)

Uhhhg... When did moderation start taking effect immediately? Maybe posting on my moderated comment will undo my horrific error.

more than 2 years ago
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B&N Releases Nook Tablet To Rival Amazon Fire

rayd75 Re:And in other -- er, actually, the same -- news. (183 comments)

Meh, tell that to my old iphone. It took 20-30 seconds to display text after I typed it. You can imagine what scrolling around webpages felt like. The thing was painful. :(

iPhone 3G on iOS 4.0? Been there and it was painful. I missed calls because of the crappy performance. Web pages would take 3 forevers to load... Still, once they did, they scrolled flawlessly in the "you're moving a page with your finger" sense. No choppy animation or pixel by pixel jumping of the page contents. Score one for using the device's GPU to do your UI rendering, huh?

about 3 years ago
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Apple Acknowledges iPhone 4S Battery Problems

rayd75 Re:Blackberry (315 comments)

Have you RTFA? The battery drains completely in six hours. That's pretty freaking frequent.

Read the article and have the phone. I've not experienced a six hour drain. Nor has my wife. Nor have three coworkers and two friends. Still, I have no doubt that it happens... just not to the majority of users. For those who do experience it, yeah, six hours probably sucks... but I'm far from being convinced that temporarily having the normal battery life of a 4G Android phone while Apple looks into it is the injustice some are making it out to be.

Come back and make your RIM comparison when half the iPhones in the world stop working for three days straight.

I'll be glad to once iCloud goes down. Which it will, eventually. And it will be hilarious.

I fear this day... I'm not sure how I'll operate when everything on my phone operates as it always has except for my unused .me email account and photo synchronization.

about 3 years ago
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Apple Acknowledges iPhone 4S Battery Problems

rayd75 Re:Speed (315 comments)

The antenna problems with the iPhone 4 were obfuscated and blamed on the user at first, too.

And then they went away about the time the media stopped covering it... and without any hardware changes. Hmmm....

about 3 years ago
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Apple Acknowledges iPhone 4S Battery Problems

rayd75 Re:Blackberry (315 comments)

Had this been an issues with a new blackberry, you know they would be crucified. The media loves to let apple getaway with stuff like this all the time, but any mistakemade by RIM and it means the end of the company. If this is a software bug, why are we waiting weeks for a fix? Because apple knows they can do as they please, and these devices will still fly off the shelves faster then they can build them.

Because it's nothing more than a minor inconvenience for a small number of users? Great, your battery drains before the day's over. So what? Charge your phone more frequently for a couple of weeks while Apple looks into the issue. Come back and make your RIM comparison when half the iPhones in the world stop working for three days straight.

about 3 years ago
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Google's iOS Gmail App Pulled

rayd75 Re:Inexcusable incompetence for this failure (90 comments)

It is completely inexcusable for Google to botch up a high-profile app release like this. Google has thousands of engineers, PMs, and testers, and they can't release an app for Gmail, one of their flagship user-facing products?

Inexcusable? Maybe. ...but not at all unexpected. Anyone who's attempted to make use of the Google Voice iOS app over the last ~year that it's been available would think that an app that errors-out at launch is the next evolutionary step. It's had at least three updates but none of them have addressed abysmal performance, hangs, lock-ups, and false "call failed" error messages that were present and widely experienced from the very start.

about 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is Reverse DNS a Worthy Standard For Fighting Spam?

rayd75 The world of senders is not black and white (301 comments)

Remember that not every non-spam email originates from a perfectly-configured self-hosted SMTP server. Many organizations outsource their email, spam filtering, compliance filtering, notice / statement delivery, etc. While it's easy to posit that the IT departments in such organizations have a duty to maintain reverse DNS records for all their partners' servers, don't fall into the trap of thinking that every organization has a fully-staffed, knowledgeable IT department... or an IT department at all.

more than 3 years ago
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Analyzing Long-Term SSD Failure Rates

rayd75 Re:Baed on numbers... (149 comments)

The most interesting part of the article for consideration with SSDs is that SMART is going to be near useless for them. Since most failures are random occurrences in electronics which SMART isn't good at detecting, we may need better technology for detecting SSD failures.

Have you ever seen SMART perform in a useful way on a mechanical disk? At work and at home, I've gone through a crap-ton of hard disks in the last decade or so that SMART's been prevalent and never have I seen SMART flag a drive as problematic before I already knew I had a serious problem. More often than not, I've had systems slow to a crawl due to massive numbers of read errors and sector reallocations while the drive firmware actively lied to me about the drive's condition. Only looking at the raw SMART stats and watching the counters increase wildly reveals the truth.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Support In Universities?

rayd75 Re:UNC Greensboro (432 comments)

Have IT staff ever ridiculed you for asking questions about Linux?

Yes. They seem to be from the MS School of thought. You remember those people...everything must run MS and if it doesn't, it sucks. The guys who run Ultimate editions of everything even though they don't need it, and brag about having a beta version of Office. Well now they work in IT.

Yeah, it's because the IT staffs are inept and brainless, not because IT training, culture, and best practices center around what actually works in business where most of these oppressed students will spend 50 years of their adult lives. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of clueless losers in IT who don't even know what Linux is, but if you're looking at entering any non-tech field and think your college Linux experimentation and personal rebellion against Microsoft's evil empire will offer you any advantage in the business world, you're in for disappointment.

more than 3 years ago

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