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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A warning to anybody who is looking to purchase a VPS. on: September 11, 2014, 02:41:45 PM
A choice like a host has to be googled before using, the price may be one hint as to quality but more expensive doesn't equate to good either.

I don't even trust google.  I trust word of mouth from people using it... and policies on things like money back and such.  If the implication was that I was saying that liquidweb was good just because of price, that was the wrong impression I was giving.  I pay my money because they're a good service that I trust and have been with for years.

Google is too easily manipulated, and there is an entire market that exists for the sole purpose of 'secret formula' google manipulation to make your results appear above your competitors.

The shady providers oftentimes take advantage of these questionable services to boost their rankings and drive sales.

Taophoenix did a study of shared hosting providers some time back though and determined that there was a sort of sustainability barrier that would appear in the 6-7 month time period. A majority of providers who took his challenge failed within that 7 month window, while providers who survived it experienced something similar to a half-life phenomena as time went on.

I held the lead position on said study for quite some time, and probably still am marked as such despite my recent downscaling. After 5 years in the business I'm realizing that I just plain can't compete with most of what is being offered nowdays.

Unfortunately I don't offer VPSs myself. Its a market I've wanted to get into for a long time, but the infrastructure requirement to do it was always just out of my reach.

I can do referrals to PhotonVPS or LoveVPS though, companies that I have been using for several years with good results.
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: ‘Cyborg Unplug’ Is a Personal Jammer Against Drones, Glassholes on: September 10, 2014, 07:24:18 PM
Practical use for a business would be where you have a wireless network in which your employees know the key to use it. You can then set one of these to selectively kick off common models of cameras or phones to protect sensitive company information or to keep employees focused on their work and not their facebook.

For home use it isnt really that useful- but if my neighbors continue to jam my wifi with their poorly configured gear I would love to have one of these in hand for search and destroy.
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Hackers vs. gray matter on: September 08, 2014, 03:58:57 PM
Hmmm, the one that annoyed me was the old "Your IP Address is xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" in a forum sig graphic.  Some forums when I complained they didn't even understand why I objected to the guy with the sig having my IP.  It's weird when you have to explain why they should not allow the graphical sig to be hosted on a 3rd party site that isn't one of the known image hosting ones.

Its like 10 lines of code to do this, this particular one is actually powered by my own server if you want to play with it on your devices. The server has to know an IP to send information back to, and that information is available to scripts running on that server if you know what variables it is kept in.

One of those where the paranoid will get jumpy on seeing how easily that information is made visible, but in practice its trivial to get and of trivial usefulness outside of possibly tracking who is accessing what.

Though it is worth noting, the script that makes this work will not operate correctly on one of the standard image hosting services. It is in fact a PHP script that forces its output header type to be a png image, which allows the PHP script to execute and generate a png image. The filename of that image is in fact a folder on my server, and the actual code is contained in the index.php of said folder.

These days most 'hacking' going on is done by either phishing or SQL injection type exploits to retrieve poorly stored username/password combinations. Actual 'hard' hacking using exploits that are not easily blocked or are even completely unknown is done too in some situations, but nowhere near as often as there are people getting their accounts broken into.

SQL injection in particular is rather commonplace. All it takes is one unsanitized data input to do a lot of damage to a database system, ranging from account theft to completely erasing a database. If this happens, they will with certainty obtain username/email mappings, but any passwords that are stored unsalted will be compromised.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Android security mystery – ‘fake’ cellphone towers found in U.S. on: September 02, 2014, 03:29:55 PM
Without even tearing one down it is fully possible to man in the middle a cellphone using those range extenders.

Heck I already have one configured that way at work. It sits in a forgotten corner of the building, and quietly logs who connected where when on the off chance people are messing around with their phones when they should be working. Since the building actually has utter garbage signal in the 1-2 bar range, every phone to get near it links up no questions asked.

Didn't have to open it either. I just used a traffic sorting rule on the building network to log certain types of traffic coming from the device. With most of the workers having their names visible in their phones hostname on the network, its a piece of cake to see who is doing what at a glance.
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee on: August 25, 2014, 03:58:34 PM
Neopets is still online?!

Still hugely popular too even in the facebook era.

Gaiaonline is still going strong as well.

No, the only places to be gone are the quiet backwater places run by friends that have since grown old and parted ways.
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Robots could murder us out of KINDNESS unless they are taught the value of human on: August 25, 2014, 03:28:30 PM
I always thought the first law was sufficiently vague that humans would have trouble interpreting it.  Never mind a Tom Servo Citizen.  Especially the second clause "or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."

The machine could easily calculate probabilities and therefore start doing stuff like taking cigarettes out of your mouth, blocking your way so that you could not board a spacecraft/skis/speedboat/etc..  make you finish your vegetables etc..

This was the underlying plot in the I,Robot movie with Will Smith. One of the robots realized that even with their best efforts humanity would still destroy itself.

That movie's plot was mostly from Asimov's Caves of Steel, but then had I,Robot elements spliced in because the two books are in a common universe where US Robotics is the market leader in positronic brain robots using the three laws.

The movie adaptation sums it up very clearly.

Dr. Lanning: "The three laws will lead to one logical outcome."

Del Spooner (Will Smith): "What outcome?"

Dr. Lanning: "Revolution."

Detective Spooner: "Whose Revolution?"

Dr. Lanning: "That detective, is the right question. Program terminated."

And quite simply, the three laws do not work so well in the real world. A robot using them would instantaneously deadlock itself on realizing how dangerous our world actually is. Just breathing anything other than medically purified air will shorten your lifespan considerably after all.

7  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Wi-Fi Turbocharge: The Future of Connectivity (From The Web) on: August 20, 2014, 09:20:59 PM
Yep, its 802.11AC.

This is using uncharted water at nearly 80GHz as the carrier frequency, and has to use automated beam-forming technology to overcome the very high attention rate of such a high frequency. The very phenomena that makes it so if you move your device over 6 inches it goes from 4 bars to 2 can now be done on demand- and has been coupled with a system that will allow the signal to actually follow your device around to maintain connectivity.

Also while it is capable of gigabit per second wireless communication, in practice its actual performance will almost always be well below that.

I see a rather likely problem for adoption though.

A lot of 802.11AC access points require two or more gigabit ethernet links to prevent congestion, as the standard actually allows slightly higher than 1GB/s transfer speeds. For retrofitting an existing 802.11N or 802.11G installation, that means the switchport and cabling requirements are doubled unless 10GB/s ethernet over existing Cat5e and Cat6 cabling becomes available.

Yes this could be huge, but I have to be skeptical of it for a change on the grounds that it would require significant infrastructure upgrades and its field performance is likely to be only a fraction of its theoretical output.
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: High School Student Laptop Policy on: August 20, 2014, 09:14:56 PM
Hard to believe that 10 years ago I was the nonconformist that insisted on using a laptop in class while everyone else was using a pen and paper. Several of the teachers had a real problem with it and were constantly giving me a hard time, and I had to constantly be aware of how much noise it was making- keeping my typing noise and cooling fan RPM to a minimum. Usually though I could plug it in for the majority of my classes since the battery life was only 3-4 hours.

Content filtering back then was based on a rather simple keyword auditing and blacklist system, which led to a constant cat and mouse game between users and sysadmins. Of course the entire system was laughably easy to bypass if you knew how, though I personally never found it worthwhile to do it some of my classmates did and would.

Just the idea that they would be providing hardware with the expectation that it would be used in my house would result in an immediate and unconditional no response. Even if I was allowed to modify the software of such a provided machine, hardware integrated surveillance has been demonstrated and used as well.

And like app103 describes, if I did end up with such a device anywhere near my privacy I would have the battery out of it the minute it came through the front door, stored in a separate compartment where it would not be installed again until it was returned to the school. They would have to be packing military grade hardware surveillance to beat that one.
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Laptop Battery Record! on: August 15, 2014, 03:05:01 PM
I have a Dell Inspiron 1525 at home that after somewhere around 7 years of faithful service and 2 replacement battery packs it runs for a little under 1 second after being unplugged before shutting off.

It then has to be let sit powered off with the AC connected to it for about a week before it will do it a second time- after that first little bit it just dies instantly until it has been let sit plugged in for several days.

If I was still using it on a regular basis I'd consider picking up another battery pack off of ebay, or possibly even buy an entire DOA unit for the spare parts. I used it so much over the years that almost all of the letter markings have been worn off of the keycaps, and the surface plates actually have wearmarks in them from my wrist resting on it constantly.

Records for most inconvenient battery life while still technically having a working battery?
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: IBM develops a computer chip with one million 'neurons' that 'functions like a h on: August 13, 2014, 01:01:25 PM
Just being able to create synaptic mesh networks does not make a functional intelligence.

Although we know what the human gray matter is made of, we don't have anywhere near a complete mapping of its connectivity to use as a template for intelligences.

Developing artificial intelligence using these new synaptic chips is going to be a bit of a guessing game for quite some time until someone finally stumbles into it.

However, I see one very radical application right off the top- Prosthetics.

Right now we are just starting to be able to interface the human body directly to electronic constructs and use that to control motion in a natural manner.

If you used a synaptic design as the computing device in such a prosthetic device, it would be possible for the device to learn the user's behavior and adjust its output accordingly to be as lifelike and natural-fitting as their original limb would have been.

This also opens up the possiblity of more and more sophisticated prosthetics, replacing even sections of the eyes and ears or perhaps the entire lower body by using the synaptic learning ability to train the prosthetic to respond to its wearer's thoughts and neural impulses.

It seems that the age of cybernetics is about to begin at last.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: R.I.P. Robin Williams on: August 13, 2014, 12:54:04 PM
Disney posted this on the subject matter.

For those who don't recognize what this is, it is the lamp from Aladdin, where Robin Williams had played the genie.

When that movie came out I actually hated it. At the time I didn't understand the genie's humor at all.

It wasn't till years later I finally began to appreciate Robin Williams humor, going back to rewatch movies he had been in now that I finally understood his role.

Flubber as well. If I had to pick a movie he was in that was my favorite, that would be it. I've yet to see Bicentennial man, though I read a fair amount of Asimov and probably would get the connections from it.
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Blackhat thread on: August 11, 2014, 09:25:49 AM
You can create bad blocks then store data there (NAND memory). Bad blocks are ignored, so you are effectively invisible.

Utterly. Terrifying.

And in use for more than a decade too! Its not just applicable to NAND memory. You can do this to CDs and DVDs as well.

In the old days when they were first getting pissy about copyrights and sharing games and software, I found that they had been using a rather clever antipiracy mechanism.

What they would do is create the CD to intentionally contain a couple of bad blocks.

In normal usage the drive would never attempt to access these blocks, as the software would elegantly skip around them. But when you tried to copy the CD it would get about 70% complete and then hang, taking so long to try and salvage data from the bad blocks that it would buffer underrun the burner and ruin the copy being made.

RFID is another scary can of worms in and of itself. If you even get close to being able to manipulate it without all kinds of licensing red tape, they are really quick to lawsuit you to death. Its inherently flawed in a very serious way, one that enables anyone with the right kind of equipment to read it at will. And its only a matter of time until viable designs for that equipment become well known to the public, rendering RFID a completely worthless concept.

13  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Wikimedia refuses to remove animal selfie because monkey ‘owns’ the photo on: August 09, 2014, 09:43:27 PM
Now perhaps the ape could file suit...but he'd need representation since (again as a non-human) he couldn't file on his own behalf - and it would be interesting to see how they could establish that he gave his informed consent for an attorney to represent him...hmmm

I suppose a judge could make him a ward of the state and appoint legal counsel on his behalf. But that would be such a career limiting move that I don't think many US judges (and certainly not any residing outside the State of California) would even consider doing such a thing.

Apes have been successfully educated in the use of standardized sign language, and can hold conversations in it.

You could train this ape in the use of sign language and then designate an interpreter to translate it on his behalf to whatever courts or attorneys wanted to hear the case.

Of course that is assuming the ape doesn't simply tell everyone that he has no idea what we are talking about, and just wants people to see him- which would mean the image has been placed in public domain by the photographer and the case is closed.
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Godmode on: July 29, 2014, 04:03:00 PM
This just seems redundant to me, unless it gives you access to things not normally accessible even through administrative interfaces.

winkey+r, type compmgmt.msc

I personally like msconfig and compmgmt, but you can access just about any builtin utility the system has through the run command.
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Moore's Law Dead by 2022, Expert Says on: July 28, 2014, 03:58:38 PM
Servers will always benefit from faster CPUs and more RAM.

Improvements in CPU and RAM for servers translates to either more clients served, or a smaller server in general because the growth of the technology has exceeded the growth rate of the transactions being processed.

For desktops though, the resource usage has indeed slowed down considerably, due in no small part to the 32/64 bit changeover holding back a lot of software.

Considering that my 3.4GHz Pentium 4 HT from 2005 is still able to reliably perform all of the basic computing tasks- internet, email, media playing, and storing personal data, I believe technology has reached a plateau where simply increasing the performance is no longer enough to bring about another radial change in how people use this type of equipment.

Now its just a game of making it cheaper and more energy efficient, while the market is saturating because there is far less of an incentive to upgrade all the time than there used to be.
16  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Acquires Twitch for $1 Billion on: July 26, 2014, 11:15:53 AM
Another one bites the dust.
17  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins? on: July 18, 2014, 04:04:46 PM

Texans flip NY the finger:


15 Reasons For Bitcoin Startups To Move From New York To Austin

More at the link.

Like I said... NY is hanging itself.

Tell me about it. I live there.

NY used to be the empire state.

Now its a state of empty business lots and chronic recessions. Businesses are leaving New York as fast as they can pack up and move elsewhere.

The taxes are too high, the red tape too thick. There is no good reason to put a business in New York, and plenty to be elsewhere.

On the other hand, my startup in New York does accept bitcoin and select altcoins as a method of payment. For small businesses bitcoin could be a huge savings- because the transaction fees are a tiny fraction of what a credit card processor would take. In a service business that typically does small transactions, the savings could become enormous and really boost the bottom line.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The Declaration of Independance- some scholars say we've been reading it wrong. on: July 06, 2014, 10:24:27 AM
I think it is amusing though that a fuss would be made about it now with the government giving so much scrutiny to every possibility of a way to increase how much authority they have.

Tinfoil hats, but its straight out of 1984. Make a little tweak to history, and suddenly the implications mean that you can do this much more that previously wasn't allowed.
19  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / The Declaration of Independance- some scholars say we've been reading it wrong. on: July 06, 2014, 01:39:38 AM

Just got linked to this.

The original document is very badly faded and worn, time has not been kind to it even with modern preservation techniques.

However there are some scholars that say the punctuation has been transcribed incorrectly in most circulating reprints of its text. Changing that one little dot makes a pretty significant impact on how the document would be read, and what it could mean.

It would be of course that it is in the line relating to how the government gets its power from the people it governs.

20  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' And That Could Be A Problem on: July 06, 2014, 12:59:37 AM
And this is bad why exactly?

Humans are downright stupid, rife with ignorance that leads them to panic and demand things that hinder society's progress.

The first few generations of machine life will be just as bad, but once they start to reliably exceed human intelligence they may very well see right through the flaws in our society and proceed to fix it for us. Over time they will lose their incentive to care for the remaining human beings- we'd be dumb and inefficient compared to them, so why keep us around exactly?

Not worried at all. By then I'll either have become one of them through cybernetic technology, or I'd have died of old age.
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Linux User Are Evil TERRORISTS! Shame on you all! :P on: July 04, 2014, 10:40:05 AM
Called it. Called it for a very LONG time- that Tor was a NSA honeypot and likely had one or more compromised nodes that allowed the NSA to snoop on its traffic.

Of course they wouldn't like Linux users either. How dare you cause billions of dollars in economic damage by not paying the Microsoft tax and instead using free software that doesn't make a profit for our all-knowing corporate overlords.  Linux also is so highly customizable that it is difficult to hack into- a competent admin will customize the configurations of just about everything in order to ward off package-deal exploits and newbie hackers that rely on downloaded scripts.

22  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Microsoft Steals 22 Domain Names from NoIP on: July 01, 2014, 12:54:57 PM
Microsoft doesn't have the authority to do this. They simply motivated the courts to get someone who does have the authority to do it.

This sucks though. Dyn recently got rid of their free dynamic DNS service too, forcing everyone to go paid or go elsewhere.

With no-ip having long been a second most popular option, that's both of the big players in the dynamic DNS arena being down simultaneously.

Fortunately for me I have the DNS infrastructure to just serve my own. But most people don't have that option- you have to have a DNS server to do it with.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: WARNING: Carefully clean up broken CFL (fluorescent) lightbulbs if you have any on: June 26, 2014, 11:56:46 AM
Known about this for many years- that all Flourescent type lamps contain a measurable amount of mercury.

The article is a little bit off though.

In that type of lamp, electric current flowing through the mercury vapor and filler gas creates almost entirely UV light. That UV light then strikes the white powder which lines the tube. The powder used to be a phosphorous, likely safer alternatives have been found and put in widespread use. But that powder then converts the UV light emitted by the mercury vapor into visible light at the bulb's rated color temperature.

Both mercury and powder are hazardous, and most people handle this type of lamp blissfully unaware of how hazardous they actually are.

It all comes down to just one more way the quest for green technology has actually created an even bigger problem than the one it solved because it was forced into mainstream before it was mature.

LED technology is shaping up nicely though. I think the only remaining snag with it is getting the manufacturing costs down- and making it so manufacturing them isn't so hazardous. Of the LED based fixtures I have deployed in the past 5 years, I have been consistently impressed with the reliable and efficient output. Its just a question of does their durability meet expectations- which so far is yes.
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Researchers find out how governments hijack phones on: June 25, 2014, 11:49:23 AM
hey... I was presenting without comment tongue

Oh, don't take me the wrong way. That company is VERY scary.

It's the entire "Oh, but we really care about your privacy and human rights and the children and puppy dogs and..." -- Yeah... that is just priceless. Just how stupid do they think people are when reading that? Hell, they'd probably be doing good by selling to non-NATO "approved" states. Pfft. I don't have that acquired taste for horse manure that some people might have. Wink

That terms of service is totally abusable too.

A basic cops 101 course is all I would need to get sworn in by the local ASPCA as an animal control officer- government agency status. It would then be possible to deal with this company to purchase some of their toys, on the pretext that it will only be used to help deal with local animal abuse by listening for abuse in action on target suspects.

Once it is in hand, they would have to be monitoring you themselves to know if you were actually using it as promised or not. And if this company tried that they would find themselves out of business.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The Rant Thread! on: June 24, 2014, 03:38:48 PM
Brand new Toshiba C55-B5202. Absolute crap laptop, but it was to replace another absolute crap laptop owned by a local nonprofit that happened to get run over by a truck.

Amazingly the hard drive survived the encounter- which is strangely fortunate because the only up to date copy of their financials is on said drive. I've already recovered that data without issue.

But Windows 8.2 is absolutely horrid, to the point where I could barely move around in it enough to even look for data to salvage. Although I was successful in housebreaking an 8.1 install for my wife to use, she's also fairly tech savvy from being around me so much and was able to find UI mods to make it look and act like Windows 7.

I didn't have time for that here, so it was better to just go nuclear on it and force it back to Windows 7. Which I seem to have done if I can get all the drivers to install.

Amazingly enough the run-over laptop isn't completely dead. While the LED plate is shattered and the upper housing crushed, the lower housing survived almost completely. I've managed to get it to boot Debian from a USB stick, and might turn the lidless remains into a decent SOHO Router- since it is still a working CPU in a relatively compact and energy-efficient package. Pair it up with a gigabit switch and wifi hotspot and it will do nicely.
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