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Current Topic: Technology

Dear Reporters, STFU already.
Topic: Technology 2:24 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2011

I probably shouldn't be singling out any particular reporter for this, but Declan McCullagh should really know better by now.

The title of the article in question is "Street View cars grabbed locations of phones, PCs" but it could easily be retitled "Tech reporter clearly surprised by the obvious" or possibly "Old news to cater to the clueless".

Some details to point out:
1. This is actually yet another silly article that seems to be designed just to spread fear to the clueless about Google Street View cars.
2. The program in question ended in May of last year, which makes this old news and anyone who took this long to figure it out slow-witted.

Simple facts overlooked by most reporters:
* Wi-Fi uses public spectrum which means it's completely legal for anyone to listen to what's broadcast... even if they're in a slowly moving car. There's nothing "debateable" or "arguable" about it--it's fucking 100% legal. The only "grey area" here is whether or not it's legal when you are Up To Something Else and that Something Else is criminal and it still doesn't make merely listening to that spectrum illegal. If it weren't 100% legal you couldn't really even begin to use the "browse" functionality in your wi-fi drivers to find your own access point.

* Every bloody wireless ethernet ("Wi-Fi") device out there has a MAC address because it's required by the standard. Not suprisingly, this doesn't mean only access points but yes, PDAs with wi-fi, cellular phones with wi-fi, fancy home alarm clocks with wi-fi, baby monitors with wi-fi, SUVs with wi-fi, home surveillance cameras with wi-fi, refridgerators with wi-fi, and countless delivery service vehicles with wi-fi.

* There is no reasonable way to filter out one "type" of device from another at collection time, nor, with what Google was planning in mind, would it even be something you'd want to do. The first three bytes of a MAC address specify what manufacturer made the chipset in question, and the rest of the bytes after that are pretty much up to the manufacturer to do with as they wish. Who made the device tells you absolutely nothing authoritatives about what it's doing.

* Google now can't go and delete that data because you dumbasses keep trying to "raise questions" about it, which keeps leading to politicians and law-enforcement people who have even less of a clue having to ask questions about it, which technically makes all that crap potentially evidence and they could much more easily wind up in a big pile of shit over "deleting evidence" than "collecting wireless confetti". stop asking questions about whether or not Google has plans to permanently delete that information, because you're the reason they can't, dumbass.

* If Google's people are recalcitrant about reciting details of who they've told what when what they said and ... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Dear Reporters, STFU already.

Get paid to solve simple coding problems!
Topic: Technology 10:24 pm EDT, Aug 17, 2010

The gall of some people is simply unbelievable. Someone has put the P != NP problem over on

That having been said, the people bidding on this are hilarious. (Oh yes, there's coders lining up to swear they can solve it more cheaply than the last guy.)

Get paid to solve simple coding problems!

Apple Fails With Both Hands (and possibly four fingers)
Topic: Technology 2:20 pm EDT, Jul  2, 2010

So, in the latest bid to hide the fact that they're probably going to need to recall a lot of people's precious iPhone 4Gs, Apple has come out with yet another mind-boggling statement.

Apparently, they've decided to blame the apparently drop in signal when you hold the phone "incorrectly" on software--effectively saying you've been seeing four bars when you should have only been seeing two of them.

What the hell this has to do with why it's dumb to not electrically insulate the antenna, I have no idea--but maybe it'll keep the new iPhone users confused long enough for their warranties to run out.

Hahah, no.

Apple Fails With Both Hands (and possibly four fingers)

Lanyards: When Shoestrings Go Moonlighting
Topic: Technology 7:10 pm EDT, May 11, 2010

So, during the recent floods I found out that on my side of town, yes people will in fact steal from flood victims while the floodwaters are still running high and had my brand new netbook bag (the netbook inside was used when I got it last week, so no big deal there) and full-face motorcycle helmet stolen from right outside my door.

Replacing the stuff is turning out to be a big mess. I'm just plain screwed on the helmet, which was an HJC CL-15 "Crypt" in XXXL (if you suspected I had a large cranium before, I think this serves as proof) which had to be special-ordered to begin with. It was a 2008 style and basically, I'm f**ked for ever seeing one of those again. There's a marginal chance that I'll be able to stuff my head into a mere XXL, but I'll have to find one in that size to try on first, and that's a long drive across town.

The netbook is not a big deal since it wasn't very expensive to begin with, and it's not like they're going to get top-dollar from anyone for it since it has "only" 20Gb of SSD storage. Last night I ordered an EEE PC 1000 with 40Gb total SSD storage in it, and should anyone be getting any ideas about intercepting it upon delivery by using the work badge that was stolen... Make sure your life insurance policy is paid up and your worldly affairs are in order.

No, it turns out the real bitch was the three thumb drives which contained just about every little fiddly bit of art I've done over the last several years, as well as archived bookmarks, notes, code, software installers, malware removers, pictures of friends, a few pieces of operating systems here and there, but most importantly... The goddamn lanyards.

Lanyards are cheap to make, and it used to be that every thumbdrive you bought came with one. Nowadays, not so much! Let me say this to thumbdrive manufacturers right now: You might be wanting to save every penny you can, but I guarantee you that if your drive is the fifty cents or so more expensive than the next guys because it has a lanyard in it, most people aren't going to even blink at spending that piddling extra money.

After quite a bit of poking around, I finally found someone online that sells the damn things with the proper silk cord and breakaway bit on the end like what used to come with the Sandisk Cruzers. It actually took more searching to find replacement lanyards of the proper type than it did to finally locate another ASUS EEE PC with SSDs in it (which are damn few and far between now). I'm linking this here because I can't be the only person I know who is trying to find a decent string lanyard without going to the cell phone store to paying fifteen bucks for 38cm of shoestring and some plastic bits.

Lanyards: When Shoestrings Go Moonlighting

The most glorious iPhone app ever invented
Topic: Technology 3:10 am EDT, Aug 25, 2009

OKay, so there's a little bit of chauvanist in me, but you have to admit that for ninety-nine cents, this is a pretty sweet "toy" for the phone. Trust me, after seeing the video you will agree.

Not safe for work. No way, no how.

Probably won't make the girlfriend smack you, but you never know...

The most glorious iPhone app ever invented

Dear Handmark, please DIAF, kthxbai~
Topic: Technology 6:33 pm EDT, Aug 18, 2009

Dear Handmark,

Earlier this week I gave your little Pocket PC app--called Pocket Express-- a shot. Your privacy policy looked reasonable, but seemed to have neglected to mention that your app would stealthily mail you my phone number, which you would promptly begin using to send me SMS spam.

SMS spam costs me twenty cents per, and for this twenty cents guess what you get? You get your app immediately uninstalled from my phone, and I can assure you I won't be considering any of your products in the future, either. Now you might be asking why on earth I pay twenty cents a message when so many people have unlimited SMS plans. I am paying that because Sprint isn't bright enough to block it properly, and charges $5 more a month I'm not interested in spending because you see, unlike the rest of America, I realize that when I need to get a quick message to someone, if we both have cell phones I CAN FUCKING CALL THEM UP AND JUST SAY IT.

It's amazing how much ill will twenty cents can generate.

Because pissing potential customers off with unsolicited, poorly formatted SMS spam is something you should be firing someone over.

Dear Handmark, please DIAF, kthxbai~

Introducing The Possibly Noteworthy Remix Service
Topic: Technology 2:36 pm EDT, Jun 14, 2009

After a years of development work, the technology has finally been perfected that allows users all over the internet to review the disjointed web clippings of possibly noteworthy in almost realtime.

Go check it out if you haven't already.

Introducing The Possibly Noteworthy Remix Service

My god, it's full of colors
Topic: Technology 12:30 am EDT, Apr 10, 2009

So, I own a scooter now, and since the weather is turning nice again, I'm looking into what can be done about little things like it's depressingly inaccurate speedometer and it's complete lack of front mounted laser weaponry (economy's fading fast and lasers don't need to reload).

While considering that perhaps I could use an Arduino to control an LED array and get an accurate speedometer read (and maybe control laser intensity) I stumbled across this video.

I wouldn't want to be the guy having to solder all those connections, but it might be worth it.

My god, it's full of colors

Why Richard Bennett is Wrong
Topic: Technology 3:32 pm EST, Dec  1, 2008

I just can't think of anything nice to say about the level of misinformation in this article, so I'm having to settle for saying things that aren't entirely hostile instead. To somewhat oversimplify, Richard Bennett has published an article to The Register making the claim that a recent behavioral change for uTorrent (a popular BitTorrent client) will result in the entire Internet's bandwidth being reduced by three-quarters.

We'll start with the out-and-out lie that heads up the article:

The leading BitTorrent software authors have declared war on you - and any users wanting to wring high performance out of their networks.

He then explains that this is because the authors of uTorrent have decided to make a change to the client so that it will default to UDP instead of TCP for data transfers. He goes on to compound this erroneous deduction with some, well, insanity.

By most estimates, P2P accounts for close to half of internet traffic today. When this traffic is immune to congestion control, the remaining half will stumble along at roughly a quarter of the bandwidth it has available today: half the raw bandwidth, used with half efficiency, by 95% of internet users. Oops.

There are some fundamental flaws in the argument he's trying to make here, one of the most glaring ones being that UDP is "immune to congestion control" (which he makes by proxy by quoting someone else, for those crying "but he's not the one that said it!"). This is simply untrue. UDP is no more immune to congestion control than TCP or ICMP. That is, it's not immune to actual congestion control... If your idea of "congestion control" is to spoof a disconnection request for a substantial number of the active connections going over a network segment (which in the 90's was called a "denial of service attack") then UDP would indeed be immune to this because UDP doesn't have a built-in "session" concept that can be so easily broken by an attacker, but that's not congestion control--at best that's connection harassment. (We won't go into detail right now about how badly Sandvine malfunctioned in addition to being the wrong solution.)

UDP was intended for real-time data transfers such as VoIP that typically move small amounts of data with a low tolerance for delay. [...] Bulk data transfers are supposed to use TCP, in large part because it shoulders the burden of congestion control for the internet’s end-to-end layer.

This is a more subtle derangement of the truth, but is no less untrue than the other premise Bennett makes. UDP was designed without handshaking protocols or methods of guaranteeing packet delivery so that it could facilitate very short transactions where handshaking or packet reassembly could introduce unuseful delays. There's no reason it can't be used for bulk transfers--it... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

Why Richard Bennett is Wrong

Peek - Simply email
Topic: Technology 4:13 pm EDT, Sep 12, 2008

I'm not particularly worried about hacking it, but it looks like it would be handy for people who don't have the infrastructure for a Blackberry.

Peek - Simply email

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