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California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

sehlat Never gonna work ... (506 comments)

"... stumble out of a pub..."

Like the inebriated gentleman in San Francisco of many years ago? He stumbled out of a pub, crawled into the back seat of a waiting automobile, assuming it was a taxi, and demanded "Take me to the corner of Washington and Clay!" Given that Washington and Clay run parallel to each other, that would confuse the hell out of the computer.

In this case, however, the officers driving the vehicle escorted their new passenger to the lockup so he could sleep it off.

about three weeks ago

Future Hack: New Cybersecurity Tool Predicts Breaches Before They Happen

sehlat Nothing New Here (33 comments)

Precrime Division has had it for years.

about a month ago

Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

sehlat Major Change in Business Model? (249 comments)

Apple is famous for two things:

1. Having a walled garden.

2. Cultivating the wall and leaving the garden to fend for itself.

Possibly mimic GoodReads, which Amazon uses to great effect as a marketing and curation tool?

Letting the App developers take more of the gelt home would also help. More of them might
be able to support themselves instead of feeding the iMaw.

about a month ago

Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded

sehlat One Database to rule them all (162 comments)

One Database to bind them.
One Database to keep them out.
And into the darkness send them.

about 1 month ago

Wireless Contraception

sehlat "The implant can be used to deliver other drugs." (302 comments)

So in the future, everybody is required to be implanted with this gadget -- loaded with tranquilizers. The government has the activation key, no skin contact required, and if a demonstration or anything else gets "out of hand" the code gets broadcast, the "insurgents" go off into la-la land, and they send in the street sweepers to collect them.

Forget the tinfoil hat. Where's my tinfoil armor?

about 2 months ago

Wireless Contraception

sehlat Needs FDA *AND* NSA approvals will be required (302 comments)

"Then we have secure encryption. That prevents someone from trying to interpret or intervene between the communications."

The NSA will want a backdoor.

about 2 months ago

Barnes & Noble To Spin Off Nook Media, Will Take It Public

sehlat Champagne corks pop at Amazon (51 comments)

B&N bought Fictionwise, where I was buying about $2000/year of eBooks before the publishers managed to kill just about every eBook store that carried their stuff except Amazon and B&N. Neither of them is as well-run or as reader-friendly as Fictionwise and Books on Board were (hint: shopping cart, "tell me when new books by author (x) are available", and store credits along with publisher-over-priced eBooks which could be used to buy more books).

Amazon has more than just books, so they can hang in there, but the Nook division and its former parent company are both doomed.

*sigh* Thank God for Calibre and jailbreaking!

about 3 months ago

Comcast Converting 50,000 Houston Home Routers Into Public WiFi Hotspots

sehlat Copyright Trolls Delight (474 comments)

And, of course, the CT will inevitably find these hotspots being used for so-called "infringing downloads" and proceed to hold the people the routers are assigned to responsible for them.

Malibu Media is going to LOVE this!

about 3 months ago

Security Researchers Threatened With US Cybercrime Laws

sehlat Re:OK, Whatever... (156 comments)

Consider that lovely phrase cost/benefit. We're talking *perceived* cost/*perceived* benefit.

As far as TEPCO executives were concerned, the cost of protecting Fukushima Daichi
was enormous, while they could pooh-pooh the possibility of an earthquake which might
need such protection.

Such costs can be reasonably estimated, so perceived cost closely equals actual cost.
However, earthquake probabilities are much easier to dismiss, so it is easy to have
perceived benefit MUCH lower than actual benefit when the earthquake shows up.

Security costs have much the same problem. You can't say for certainty that someone
WILL find a way in if there is one,, so...

"Son, the guards we hire for our caravans look like a loss on the books. But the books
don't show the losses we'll take if we're hit by bandits."

about 4 months ago

Ford's Bringing Adaptive Steering To the Masses

sehlat $5 (128 comments)

Where is Ford going to save the five dollars THIS time?

Anybody remember the original Pinto, also remembered as a molotov cocktail if struck from the rear? Ford was warned by their engineers that in such collisions, some of the drivers would end up burned alive. Cost to fix: $5 per vehicle. Ford chose the cheaper alternative of paying off lawsuits, without making a serious dent in the Pinto's bottom line.

So I ask again, where will they save money to kill their customers THIS time?

about 4 months ago

Senate Report Says CIA Misled Government About Interrogation Methods

sehlat [sarc]How wonderfully counter-productive![/sarc] (207 comments)

CIA interrogators continued the harsh treatment even after it appeared that Baluchi was cooperating.

If the reward for cooperating is torture and more torture, why cooperate? At least keeping silent (or lying in ways not easily checked) can be a form of revenge.

about 6 months ago

NSA Can Retrieve, Replay All Phone Calls From a Country From the Past 30 Days

sehlat CALEA? (320 comments)

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act was passed in 1994. Just how much equipment with mandated-by-US-law security holes WAS sold to foreign countries.

about 6 months ago

Why Are There More Old Songs On iTunes Than Old eBooks?

sehlat It's Not Just the Technical Difficulty of Scanning (77 comments)

Authors' estates are notoriously greedy and short-sighted. I've seen several efforts come to grief on the fact that the heirs frequently have highly-inflated ideas of what the books are worth (Hey, they're classics!), and by God they want their "cut." Project Gutenberg had to fend off efforts by one "estate manager" to claim that materials which were clearly in public domain weren't (sort of a dwarf Warner Music). Another effort to publish "the complete Murray Leinster" foundered the same way.

about 6 months ago

The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

sehlat Re:Been doing single-cup for years (769 comments)

Update: I entered [less than] 4 cups and the [left angle-bracket] character was deleted from the post. We've made single-cup morning coffee for a LONG time.

about 7 months ago

The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

sehlat Been doing single-cup for years (769 comments)

My wife and I have a Krups dual-carafe coffee maker with a setting switch for 4 cups. Set the switch, take some beans out of the sealed container for the pre-ground beans, place them in a small filter cone. Place cone in plastic holder, pour in water and wait briefly while the coffee brews. Add seasonings to taste and drink.

It's a simple enough process that even a Green Mountain Coffee Roasters executive could do it unassisted.

about 7 months ago

Ray Kurzweil Talks Google's Big Plans For Artificial Intelligence

sehlat Re:One *REQUIRED* Precaution (254 comments)

Has anybody noticed that the stupidest ideas are almost always built by very bright people? And usually, the brighter the individual who builds it, the stupider it is.

Slashdot beta was built by geniuses. :)

about 7 months ago



Crowdsourcing Big Brother

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 5 years ago

sehlat writes "From the Los Angeles Times comes word of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where 165 public surveillance cameras are being set up to be monitored by a "non profit coalition" of volunteers. The usual suspects, including "the innocent have nothing to fear" are being trotted out to justify this, and the following quote at the end of the article deserves mention.

But Jack Bauer, owner of the city's largest beer and soft drink distributor, calls the network "a great thing." His store hasn't been robbed, he said, since four cameras went up nearby.

"There's nothing wrong with instilling fear," he said.


Sony announces DRM-free at Amazon

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "An article at The New York Times begins:

Sony BMG announced Thursday that it would become the fourth and final major music label to sell digital music on, offering its entire catalog in the MP3 format by the end of the month.
The Rebel Alliance has won."

Sony drops DRM, retains "album", "reta

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "Sony may be dropping DRM, but they're not really going fully online for music distribution. Instead they're setting things up so you still have to buy whole albums via "gift cards" purchased at Best Buy, Target, etc. Does anybody outside Sony really think this will fly?

Details at Reuters."

Western Digital Cripples Network Drives

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "Via BoingBoing. It would appear that the advertising claims for the Western Digital My Book(TM) World Edition(TM) II which include: "Listen to the music on your My Book World Edition drive while you're on vacation." and "Securely access and edit your files on any computer." and "Get files from home while at the office." may be false.

This Support Page specifically says: "Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access." Which means, of course, that if you have a great new multimedia demo of something which falls into the category of "Offer your clients an easy way to access business documents, designs, and artwork. Eliminates the need for a separate FTP server." and it's in one of a LONG list of "forbidden" formats, you're out of luck."

Palm Warranty == sneakwrap

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "There's a new article over at Ed Foster's Gripelog about the warranty on Palm Tungsten E2 and Z22 being ninety days rather than the industry-standard one year. It notes the fact that you only find out about this by opening the package with the device inside.

With software products, we all know that somewhere deep in the fine print the vendor probably disavows any real warranty. But it's a little more unexpected that a hardware vendor like Palm would hide — in the most obscure corners of its website — the fact that their warranty period on some products is so short as to be virtually useless.

Internet Toplogy Resembles a Medusa

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 7 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "A new study by a group of researchers, tends to show that the internet, taken as a whole, has a structure which greatly resembles that of a medusa.

The data suggests a new picture of the AS-graph structure, which distinguishes a relatively large, redundantly connected core of nearly 100 ASes and two components that flow data in and out from this core. One component is fractally interconnected through peer links; the second makes direct connections to the core only. The model which results has superficial similarities with and important differences from the "Jellyfish" structure proposed by Tauro et al., so we call it a "Medusa."

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 7 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "I asked my wife her opinion of the MAFIAA's war on their customers and she sent me the following essay. Posted here because I think it deserves attention.

As our communication technology expands (some might say 'explodes'), traditional media are being forced to rethink their traditional models. Nowhere is this more evident than in the struggles of major movie studios, music studios and publishing companies. Some of them are in outright legal wars with their customers. This is a certain ticket to bankruptcy court — it's just a matter of time.

In the past, big studios and big publishers were king. Composers, performers, authors and artists all had to go through them to reach an audience. Even if they went to the considerable expense of self-producing, how did they distribute their wares? The entertainment corporations were free to pay their talent as they saw fit, charge for their product as they saw fit, and they didn't have to answer to anyone. The only real adversaries they had were each other and the counterfeiters.

Counterfeit movies, books and music have always been a nuisance, but they weren't a major threat. Quality problems kept most customers attached to the genuine article. But then the technology expanded, and anyone could make a copy for their mom, their girl friend, their cousin Ernie. A lot of big companies panicked and set loose packs of lawyers to gnaw on the hands that feed them.

Panic is blind, and this is no exception. Those big companies aren't seeing the big picture, and if they don't rethink what they're doing, they will go as extinct as the dodo, BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT NEEDED ANY MORE.

The studios and publishers make a big deal about "intellectual property", but how are they defining that? Do they create anything? Or do they buy the creations of others? Do they sell anything? Or do they pretend to sell their wares, but then insist on the right to continue to "own" and control them?

These days, studios and publishers actually function as glorified introduction services. Once they were mass-producers, using economies of scale to make the expensive, cumbersome process of generating and duplicating entertainment media (whether book or music or film) cost-effective. But today, we're getting to the point where anyone with a good computer and the requisite skills can turn out high-quality content, and mass duplication isn't necessary — it can be done electronically by the purchaser. So the function of the studio or publisher is to 1. Recruit the talent, and 2. Introduce their work to the consumer.

Think about an introduction or dating service. You want to meet a nice person to go out with. The service is happy to oblige, for a fee. So far so good. But what if the service wanted to plant spyware in your car, your favorite haunts, even your bedroom, to make sure that you couldn't ask the person out again without paying them? What if they sued you for introducing her to your cousin Ernie? Would you do business with them?

No matter what they do, these agencies can't successfully control each iteration of the material they sell. If they stop trying, they'll continue to make money. Most people don't want to take the time to record or print their own entertainment. Most artists don't want to be their own marketing companies, either, so they too will continue to support agencies that treat them fairly. Some of both will go to the extra trouble, because they have more time and/or skill than money, but chances are that those people wouldn't be doing business with the agency in the first place, so nothing is being lost to them.

What about all this is so difficult? The same bloated corporations that have been swindling their artists for years are now running amok, suing grandmothers and grade-school kids for doing the very thing that will keep their products in the marketplace. Word of mouth is the most potent advertising a company can have — why aren't they taking advantage of it? The consumers want to be entertained. Show them a little bit of something entertaining and they want more. Intelligent marketing dictates selling content; recorded media might remain as a secondary "convenience" market for people who can't or don't want to convert data to their format of choice, but it's not mandatory any more. The company that's smart and realistic will provide previews, or older material from an artist's library, to potential buyers. When they sell something, they will sell it. They'll sell it in units that make sense (individual songs as well as albums, individual stories as well as collections, etc. No encryption, no spyware, no strings attached at all, except that if anyone tries to copy and market their material, they can act against them on behalf of the artist. And speaking of the artist, they'll pay their talent well enough to make it attractive to work with their agency, because if they don't, their talent has the option of marketing directly to the consumer. In the coming shaking-out of the information/entertainment media, the companies that are smart and realistic will win.

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 7 years ago

sehlat (180760) writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been investigating the innards of iTunes-plus files. Last week, they reported on additional information apparently contained in the tracks over and above the music content itself.

This week they have published an update on their findings. Some of the mystery information appears to be cover art. However, they do mention:

While there are no watermarks, there are some other interesting fields that are likley to have privacy implications. In particular, there is a 1024 bit variant field labeled sign and a 630 byte variant field labeled chtb. These are unique for every combination of user and track we've seen. Neither of these fields existed in the FairPlay DRMed .m4p tracks that Apple has been selling in the past.

sehlat sehlat writes  |  more than 7 years ago

sehlat writes "There's a note up at the EFF Deep Links blog that indicates the DRM-free m4a files may have just a wee bit more data in them than just a name and email address:

We compared two DRM-free copies of the track Daftendirekt by Daft Punk. When decoded to PCM/WAV data, both copies produced an identical audio signal (the MD5sum is e40b006497f9b417760ca5015c3fa937). So there is no audio watermark. But one of the .m4a files is almost 360K larger than the other!
360K is enough to hold at least a short novel."


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