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The IPv4 Internet Hiccups

userw014 Not an IPv6 problem but a network prefix problem (247 comments)

This isn't a reason for migrating to IPv6 (although new routers with more TCAM - Ternary Content Addressable Memory) would also likely make implementing IPv6 easier.

The problem is the large number of networks that are being advertised, coupled with the number of locations that want a full BGP feed because their networks are multiply homed. Migrating to IPv6 will allow some reduction of network tables - if only because organizations with a single location that currently have multiple IPv4 networks can be allocated a single IPv6 network (and that might have a knock-on effect for organizations that are multiply homed.) It will work with organizations that are willing to tie themselves to a single ISP.

(Yes, I know that IPv6 builds in automatic address provisioning, intended to make deployment easier - but I still think that renumbering your network will be enough of a problem that there will continue to be ISP lock-in enough to encourage large organizations to get their own network numbers outside of an ISP's range.)

about a week ago
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Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

userw014 The Sky is Falling! (326 comments)

If you've been following this issue, it isn't really about goof-off Federal employees protected by a union (sorry wing-nuts...)

A major part of it was that the US Patent and Trademark office expanded (probably to deal with earlier criticism about slow response or poor quality). But then the Federal judges - who were outside of the USPTO - weren't expanded (due to a hiring freeze from the Party of No, so work piled up while waiting for a judge.

It's easy to understand that the USPTO management might have been reluctant to lay people off in what may have seemed a temporary and artificial situation. It might even have been difficult to lay people off with year-long contracts (but I don't know how that works for the Feds.)

That still leaves plenty of criticism of the USPTO management. If it was inconvenient (rather than difficult) to lay people off, they should have started the process. They CERTAINLY should have kept better track of people's time - and even required certain minimal requirements (like availability, checkins, etc.)

It was management that got lazy or wanted to preserve their kingdom of employees. And the spark for this forest-fire of recriminations was The Party of No screwing up the country with the sequestration and other brain dead forms misguided budgeting.

about two weeks ago
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DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

userw014 Eyeball Frying Fun (383 comments)

Using biometrics as an authentication factor (with or without passwords or token generators) brings me to:

[1] Can the biometric be consistent across different vendors or models of readers - or will people be locked-in to individual vendors (or worse, models) of readers?

[2] Is the interface between the biometric reader and the computer secure?

[3] How stable are biometrics over time - both long term and short term?

[4] What happens when the same biometric is used in different security contexts - from banking to dating sites?

I doubt that these are new questions, but other than the stability of biometrics over time, I don't recall seeing them asked before.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Open Hardware/Software-Based Security Token?

userw014 S/Key (113 comments)

RSA did implement their scheme as an iPhone app. If you're willing to consider something that might work as a smart-phone app, think about S/Key. It's supported as a PAM module for the *nixes. (Of course, that assumes you're willing to trust the smart-phone apps.)

I recall using S/key ages ago (1990s) back in the days of Telnet (before ssh.) Back then, if you didn't have an S/key calculator, you could also use a paper list of one-time passwords. Ever so often, we had to re-seed our s/key (because we limited the number of passwords per. seeding.) S/key can be a bit annoying, but it ought to be cheap to implement.

If you want to go with a hand-held device, I'm sure you could implement an S/Key end-user calculator on an Arduino or Raspberry Pi - but how much can you afford to spend? I wouldn't be surprised if a Arduino-like solution cost more than RSA tokens.

S/Key is focused on a single server. If you require your users to connect through a bastion host, it might be workable - but the model breaks down if you want multiple servers, unless they share a filesystem.

about three weeks ago
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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

userw014 Is it a train? (195 comments)

TL;DV - but it seems that the the demonstration was a single car/engine. Does that count as a "train"?

about a month ago
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FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

userw014 WTF is the FBI worrying about? (435 comments)

Gun battles and bombs? If those are the worries of the FBI, the FBI is making itself look like a bunch of idiots. That's worrying about all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

The bombs issue is (sort of) plausible - if we had as bad a problem with bombs as other parts of the world. The gun battles issue is like worrying about your house burning down from lightning strikes because you're using electricity instead of candles. However, given the number of complete idiots who shoot themselves in Big Box stores, etc. we're far more likely to have accidental shootings on highways.

Autonomous cars - ESPECIALLY for-hire (or subscription or shared) autonomous vehicles would create a huge number of changes (good and bad.) I amused myself speculating about this last year without even thinking about the criminal aspect (which a co-worker brought to mind - none of which has been discussed here yet.)

But just think if there was a way to broadcast a signal to cause autonomous vehicles to pull over, slow down, or provide or audio video of the cabin. You know the security of that system is going to be broken in a few months (at most) - but it's going to have to be a pretty standard system in order for it to be used.

about a month ago
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Solar-Powered Electrochemical Cell Used To Produce Formic Acid From CO2

userw014 Re:Great... Instead of CO2 we get CO (133 comments)

I didn't see where Carbon Monoxide (CO) is mentioned in the articles or the summary of the paper. (The paper itself is more than I can read right now.)

Where is CO involved in this process?

about a month and a half ago
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Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

userw014 Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (236 comments)

I was trying to express the idea that an urban-only vehicle that only needs to go 5-10 miles per. trip might not need to achieve highway speeds. Detroit might not be willing to build and market a car that satisfies 95% of people's needs - and that could make them vulnerable to someone (like Google) who would - and might consider Google arrogant for contemplating such an idea.

about 2 months ago
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Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

userw014 Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (236 comments)

This might be urban vs. exurban.

Google's existing autonomous prototype is limited to 25mph. If Google could make a production vehicle that'd go as fast as 35mph, that'd satisfy my daily commute (90% of my driving) and shopping (another 9% for a total of 99% of my driving.)

But that assumes I'd still own the car and not use it most of the time. (I.e.: park it at home or at work 23:15 hours per. day.)

I could save money by using public transportation. I'm urban. However, most of the population of SE Lower Michigan (where I and I presume "Detroit"s designer/engineers live) is exurban, driving from one suburb (or exurb) to another for their jobs.

about 2 months ago
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Research Project Pays People To Download, Run Executables

userw014 Dated research? (76 comments)

When I read the paper, I didn't see anything to suggest a date after 2010. And as the paper says, this only covers workstation computers - Windows/XP through Windows/7. No tablets or smart-phones, or other app-store like environments.

I suspect that if anything, current behavior - influenced by app-store like environments - is even worse. You could probably get someone to run your mystery app just by promising them access to another mystery app.

about 2 months ago
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2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

userw014 Quietly I roll along... (619 comments)

I haven't put gas in my plugin hybrid since March. I'm down to a half-tank.

I live in Michigan - where the GOP dominated state government has turned our roads to gravel - except with bigger chunks. I'd really like to see better roads, and I certainly understand that my lack of gasoline purchases means that I'm being subsidized. Fuel taxes are a great proxy for road usage fees, and so long as there aren't a noticable number of plugin electric vehicles this will probably continue to work - so I won't worry about it. The politics of doing anything with The Party of No is just too difficult for little things like fairness or common sense to have any hope of success.

about 2 months ago
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Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already?

userw014 Re:Buying new vs. keeping what you have (377 comments)

I had to replace a 14 year old VW Passat V6 Sedan last fall. I went with a Ford C-Max Energi (it's a plugin hybrid.) I wouldn't have gone with an all electric vehicle because a 80-100 mile range just isn't enough for certain out-of-town trips (and I hadn't anticipated the range halving in sub-freezing temperatures.) I went with it because Ford had a discount/rebate, I also had a discount through my employer (who counts as some sort of Ford supplier), and because of the tax benefits of a plugin/EV. That made the Energi cheaper than a Prius.

I've been enjoying my car for the following reasons:

  • My work commute is short enough to be all-electric - even last winter when the all-electric range fell by half.
  • The car is very, very quiet.
  • It's still under warranty, so the maintenance feels like it's free.

However:

  • I'm paying for the free (ish) maintenance with big (ish) car payments.
  • Insurance on a new car really is a lot more than for an old car.
  • The driver's view a lot poorer than the VW
  • I get unreasonably anxious about the EV (electric vehicle) range.
  • It's a big, rolling, embedded system with weird software related flaws in the Windows Embedded Automotive based My Ford Touch infotainment syste,
  • I don't like getting into arguments with my car's voice controlled systems
  • It has a much smaller cargo capacity than any of my previous cars. For instance, I can't rent a roto-tiller that'll fit in the back.

Overall, I do like the car - but I wonder how much of that is because I don't expect having any major maintenance issues simply because it's a new car. If I were to replace it, I might go with an all electric vehicle and rent a car for longer trips - there's an Enterprise Rent-a-car just a couple miles from home - walking distance. But I hope not to replace it for a long time. (Fingers crossed...)

And I don't think my parking's gotten any worse, but I hardly visit Whole Foods anyway. (I'm mostly Kroger.) There are a heck of a lot of Priuses in my neighborhood though (but hardly any in Kroger's parking lot.)

about 2 months ago
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The Coming IT Nightmare of Unpatchable Systems

userw014 Infoworld? Really? (240 comments)

6 months after the whole issue of embedded systems blew up in Mom and Pop's pizza shop router is breaking news for InfoWorld.

I don't want to think about the number of times more visionary people have brought up this very topic over the past 15 years.

I wonder I'll be concerned in 20+ years - after I've retired from my career and will be paying rent on my hot-bunk from earnings I make washing dogs.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

userw014 Re:Automotive (158 comments)

As a new(ish) owner of an EV, I fear I agree. All of the problems I've had are the results of firmware - and that takes an excessively long time for my dealer to fix.

about 3 months ago
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Scott Adams's Plan For Building Giant Energy-Generating Pyramids

userw014 Re:"free" solar energy (107 comments)

I'm not savvy enough to throw numbers at this, but I'd wonder about the large scale aspects of this.

How tall can can you build a pile of glass bricks before the ones at the bottom fail?

What effect does on-site manufacture of glass have on it's reliability? What about local impurities, etc.?

What additional stresses (sheering, etc.) will occur to the glass because of daily and seasonal thermal changes?

What are the effects of mile (or kilometer) distant heat source/sink differences on a Stirling Engine (esp. as regards to heat transport.)

What might the weather effects be?

A pyramid full of heat tubes suggests that most of the tubes will be of different lengths.

What effects will the weight of a mile-high structure have on the underlying bedrock, esp. in terms of quakes, shifting, etc.

The pyramid design is trying to optimize direct exposure of some of the surfaces to sunlight - what of the other surfaces? Don't forget seasonal effects (summer vs. winter)

I like speculating about this (in this non-quantitative way.) Without any serious thought about this proposal, it seems unlikely - but likely enough to be worth giving it more thought than I can.

about 3 months ago
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'Curiosity' Lead Engineer Suggests Printing Humans On Other Planets

userw014 "We" - as in our abandoned children (323 comments)

This isn't We as in any individual with memories, personality, goals, culture, and values. This is We as in our abandoned children, perhaps brought up by an artificial intelligence. This is We as in the rest of our ecological support of plants and animals, fungus, and bacteria.

about 3 months ago
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Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

userw014 I'm there already (865 comments)

I'm there already. I bought a Ford C-Max Energi about half a year ago. About the only thing not mediated by a computer is the latch on the glove compartment.

I keep my wireless fob on a key-ring in my pocket. I'm still uncomfortable about this change to the User Interface as it means that I don't necessarily have the feedback of knowing I have my keys with me that I had back when I had a real key. And the key fob contains a small key-blade as a backup/emergency solution should the small battery in the fob expire (I've already replaced the battery once.) That small key-blade seems to be the ultimate back-door as far as security goes.

As for wet key fobs - my previous car had a remote lock/unlock/alarm built into one of the keys that came with the car. That died when I rushed into a lake after one of my kids while carrying the key in my pants pocket. It wasn't worth it then to replace - but it would have cost $300+ to do so.

As far as I can tell, my car is now a kind of colonial embedded computing system that happens to roll along the highway at deadly speeds. It's already been into the dealership for software updates (that took two days to apply.) I suspect that as automobiles become even more dependent on automation for their functionality, the resale value of the cars will decrease as the manufacturers eventually put limits on the support for the systems - or go out of business - or go through bankruptcy. GM - having gone through bankruptcy - now has a nice, legal excuse to stop supporting older processors in automobiles that don't impact safety.

I don't see a third-party market developing to support or enhance these systems like there is for mechanical systems. Yes, there are car hackers who download some firmware into their engine computers - but I don't see it happening for navigation systems, entertainment/audio systems, etc. And I doubt it'll happen with EV, hybrid, or plugin-hybrid vehicles.

about 3 months ago
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Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones

userw014 Re:Wrong application (139 comments)

Most personal computers I see ARE monolithic devices - or may as well be such. Very few people I know will customize or upgrade a PC after it's purchased, outside of (perhaps) RAM or storage - and even those people are rare. Of course, there are discretionary computers used by a few people - but discretionary means that if those computers are unusable while parts are being shipped or OSes being reinstalled or whatever, the only activity impacted is discretionary activity - like gaming.

Personal communication devices (cell-phones) are non-discretionary. You need them to WORK, especially if you have more responsibilities than bathing between visits to your parents' basement.

Perhaps this will allow phones to have more customizable features when they're purchased. But I don't see people swapping parts of their phones in and out the way they might connect and disconnect USB, et. al. devices.

about 4 months ago

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