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Messages - SeraphimLabs [ switch to compact view ]

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Living Room / Re: R.I.P. Robin Williams
« on: August 13, 2014, 12:54 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.

Living Room / Re: Blackhat thread
« on: August 11, 2014, 09:25 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.

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.

Living Room / Re: Godmode
« on: July 29, 2014, 04:03 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.

Living Room / Re: Moore's Law Dead by 2022, Expert Says
« on: July 28, 2014, 03:58 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.

Living Room / Re: Google Acquires Twitch for $1 Billion
« on: July 26, 2014, 11:15 AM »
Another one bites the dust.

Living Room / Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins?
« on: July 18, 2014, 04:04 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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Living Room / Re: Microsoft Steals 22 Domain Names from NoIP
« on: July 01, 2014, 12:54 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.

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.

hey... I was presenting without comment :P

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. ;)

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.

Living Room / Re: The Rant Thread!
« on: June 24, 2014, 03:38 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.

Living Room / Re: The Rant Thread!
« on: June 24, 2014, 03:04 PM »
Just got a taste of UEFI Secure Boot and the walled garden of Windows 8.

So far, this machine holds the record of how long a system has held out before being forced to load up a Linux LiveUSB and using dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M count=1024 to go nuclear on the partition table. It actually took almost 3 hours to get it to boot Debian.

It would boot Windows 8, and wanted nothing other than Windows 8. After some fudging I managed to get a Windows 7 install stick to boot, but even that would get partway up before going BSOD.

It honestly seems like not only did they make UEFI secure boot a thing just to control how you use the hardware you purchased, but they actually went out of their way to make it difficult to use anything other than what they provide for you to use.

However, I did win that battle. It is sitting on my desk right now at a Windows 7 desktop, and I managed to do it without physically yanking the drive to slave to one of my Debian boxes for forced-wiping.

Like, my god though. I knew they were aiming for a walled garden. But they certainly made it extremely tedious to get out of it. If the next version of Windows really is paid license like they are threatening to do, I am flat out not going to support it and will make everything I need run correctly in Linux.

Living Room / Re: Watch lightning strikes in real-time
« on: June 24, 2014, 11:58 AM »
Glass packs?  I haven't heard that term in a long time.  Also known as Cherry Bombs or Smittys.   :P

They still call them that around here. Except around here it is either some whacked out little Asian import with one on it and an obnoxious buzzing noise instead of a proper grumble or somebody's lifted and mud-knobbed swamp truck that you have to wonder how its street legal with 72" tractor tires. Those at least have the proper sound, usually featuring big block V-8 power.

What interests me about this map is how the lightning is detected from such incredible range. I'm rather interested in finding out how the sensors actually work, since they seem to be able to register South Florida lightning from all the way up in New York.

  • The vast majority of people today drive cars with automatic transmissions, which don't really afford a good means of engine braking.
Have to disagree with you on this point.  Most automatic transmissions are provisioned to allow the driver to manually set it to a certain gear. That provision is meant for pulling trailers- and for engine braking. Just very few people know about or utilize that capability because engine braking is not taught in the normal driver's courses. I know about it from working farm tractors where engine braking is practically required due to the brakes on the tractor being too small for the tonnage behind it, but most people I talk to who haven't operated heavy equipment or big trucks have never heard of it. My current car has an automatic transmission, and not only have I heard it performing engine braking on its own while in cruise control, but I was successfully able to perform it using the manual override this morning to keep my speeds down and compensate for the loss of braking power.

I paid $1000 cash for this car about two years ago. Right from the start it needed new brakes, and one of the brake lines got changed at that time because I had to cut the line to get the caliper hose off. But for the most part the only time I even look at the underside of it is when I think there is something odd happening, and having the brake lines rot out and pop like this happens every couple years. I'm sure people who actually put money into their car to begin with would take the time and money to have it checked and repaired on the posted schedules, but most of the people I know don't bother - if it isn't broke don't fix it.

They do indeed use two circuits, but when you have a ruptured pipe every time you stroke the pedal you are shooting fluid onto the ground. So yes you can still stop, but you only can stop a couple of times before the shared reservoir has allowed all of the fluid to leave both systems. Driving it with a ruptured line should be avoided as much as possible for this reason.

Edit: And like clockwork, the line that I had to move aside to replace the one that failed just ruptured as well. Fortunately this one was in the driveway, pumped the brakes up real nice then rolled forward about 20 feet and stomped on it- squish as all the fluid runs out again. I hate cars so much.

Well speak of the devil. Ruptured a brake line this morning.

Overshot slightly on a turn and hit the brake harder than usual to try and stick it anyway. Instead I get halfway into the turn, the brake goes soft, and I feel the car sliding sideways. Well riding it out was easy enough, it slid clear over into the other lane because of some loose stone and I had no problems correcting. Course when I reached the next stop sign I had a wait what moment- because my brakes weren't there.

Now if my car actually had ABS, that right there is where the automation would fail. It would sense that a line has ruptured and shut down in order to avoid wasting the remaining fluid. If you weren't used to driving without relying on the ABS, your brakes would suddenly become next to unusable. Fortunately I am familiar with utilizing engine braking to slow a vehicle with poor brakes, greatly reducing how much braking I have to perform. But again that's something most people don't do, that leads to accidents because they don't. They just rely on the car to work right all the time, which it won't.

Why are people still using youtube anyway.

There are other streaming video services out there now that would love to have your viewing, and are willing to take some risks of their own to get your attention- like showing content that youtube might not make available in your country, and taking their sweet time responding to copyright complaints because they know what content people want to see.

Google has become the new Walmart. It is huge, and it is going to stay huge unless people show a little willpower and shop somewhere else.

@SeraphimLabs - Are you psychic or something? If your posts got any closer to what is going through my head I'd have to start getting paranoid!

;) :D

Been fixing cars since I was old enough to hold a wrench. These days I mostly do industrial and IT related repairs, but I am around automation enough to always be second-guessing it and cross checking its behavior.

When you are around automatic stuff and it is your job to fix it, getting an inherent distrust of the machine is an occupational hazard. After all it is your job to find what is wrong with the device and put it right again.

Technology isn't some magic box that does stuff. It operates by a predictable set of rules. Watch its behavior until you learn the rules by which it works, and you can instantly spot when something has gone wrong with it.

This is interesting! One never expected that one would be able to get unqualified driving tips/advice from DC Forums.
I just imagined a scenario where a Boeing 787Dreamliner was touching down on a nice dry runway and braking, and the captain saying to the co-pilot "Ease up on the brakes there Frank, I can feel the ABS kicking in a bit too much."

I wonder if that sort of scenario would ever be likely to occur?
(ABS was originally developed for aeronautical systems.)

There's a very real chance that it actually does kick the ABS now that I think about it. When an aircraft first contacts the ground, there isn't a lot of weight on the wheels yet because the wings are still producing a lot of lift. The wheels will skid from low traction until the airspeed drops enough to transfer the weight, and a lot of runways have black streaks on them from repeated skids of incoming aircraft.

The difference is aircraft have far more frequent maintenance intervals, and have a much higher safety factor in the design because of how heavily regulated aircraft are. Having a brake line simply burst on an aircraft I should hope is an unheard-of event because of maintenance procedures dictating replacement of such components at set time periods.

On the other hand a car often isn't in the best of shape, and people tend to not realize stuff is about to break until it actually does. In the case of a brake line, your normal stop where you have plenty of distance and shouldn't rely on the automatic systems has now become an emergency stop because the loss of braking pressure means you don't have the stopping power you are used to. ABS won't help that situation at all, the automation frequently will throw a fault condition and shut down.

Having drivers in the habit of driving without relying on the automation means that when the automation fails unexpectedly, you still can remain in control of the vehicle and bring it to a safe stop assuming that the loss of stopping power doesn't make you run out of stopping distance or you are able to avoid the hazard and give yourself additional space.

Of course if the automation is working properly, it is hard to beat- and you almost certainly won't doing it by hand. But in the case of ABS, you should stay in the habit of not relying on it. Let it do its job during the emergencies it was designed to deal with, under more relaxed conditions the person driving should be making the decisions not the vehicle they are operating.

And yes. I think most of the debate over ABS was people agreeing that in an emergency stop scenario the ABS will beat the manual control every time, but under relaxed conditions it is better from a maintenance and driving habits standpoint to back off and retain manual control to reduce component wear.

You'll be more likely to feel it in the rain, due to the reduced traction- and the increased stopping distance of wet brakes.

In my experience most parking lots simply aren't large enough to let the car get up to its full highway speed before it is necessary to stop it again. On dry pavement when the car's traction and stopping distance are at their best you probably won't be able to get it to skid, which is necessary to make the ABS do its thing.  

On the other hand heavy rain with worn tires and you have a fairly good chance of triggering a skid through hydroplaning effects, allowing you to feel what the car will do when it loses traction. Wet brakes also are slower to take hold, so teaching yourself what the stopping distance is like on wet brakes will give you that much more safety margin in ideal conditions.

My personal preference for checking how the car reacts to variable traction is to go take a cruise on a backroad. Packed dirt and gravel roads are much more likely to result in skidding and sliding even in dry conditions than pavement is, and almost any vehicle can be sent sliding sideways on the turns.

In a panic braking scenario you don't have time to think about how fast to pump the brakes or what pressure to use. You're going to clamp down on it by reflex and the ABS is going to do its job- that's why they created it.

But under normal driving conditions, if you hear the ABS buzzing you need to back off of it and conserve your traction.

And yes. Brake equipment can and will pop open at the worst possible times. I really hate working on a car's brakes because even though you just serviced them and changed a few things its always the component you didn't replace that bursts next time you make a panic stop.

ABS won't save you in the ruptured brake line scenario. It just makes you run out of fluid even faster, although I should hope that by now they've figured out how to make an ABS system that can cut off a leaking wheel to conserve fluid for wheels that are still working. Hydraulic fuses are a thing after all, aircraft use them for similar reasons to prevent loss of control accidents in the event of a fluid line rupture.

My car is one that ABS was optional on that model from the factory, and owners of that model quickly learned that the ABS system was a troublemaker- it tended to have the brakes get stuck on, ruining fuel economy and destroying the brake pads. So naturally the previous owner had disabled it. I see no reason to change that knowing that it is a faulty design of ABS and being used to hand-pumped brakes on older vehicles.

When ABS kicks in you can feel the system pulsing. That pulsing is the system's way of telling you that you need to back off the brakes a bit to maintain traction

This is the only part of your post I would take issue with.

I am no expert, but the experts seem to be pretty consistent in saying that if you have ABS, and you feel it kick in during a hard/emergency breaking scenario, you should *NOT* ease up on the breaks or "tap" the breaks as you were taught in the non-abs days.

In such emergency breaking, apply consistent pressure and let the ABS do it's job.

Perhaps a better way to say what you were trying to get at is that ABS should only be kicking in during "emergency" breaking; if you are using your breaks in a way that is triggering ABS, and it's not an emergency -- then you are driving badly -- and you should take it as a signal that you need to change your everyday breaking habits.

You've pressed the brake, commanding the car to try and stop. But you've pressed so hard that the brakes locked up, triggering a skid. ABS senses that the wheel is sliding and reduces the brake pressure some to get it turning again in the interest of maintaining control. But then once the wheel is turning again the ABS clamps back down- making it skid again and repeating the cycle resulting in the pulsation and noise associated with the system. When that pulsation happens you are skidding your tires, resulting in a loss of traction and shortened tire life.

The correct response when you feel the ABS pulsing is to back off the brake slightly in order to preserve traction while still applying braking force. That way your wheels stay turning rather than breaking traction, but you are still applying very nearly as much braking force as road conditions will allow. In a panic braking situation the ABS intervenes to attempt to maintain traction, resulting in a far shorter stopping distance than what a skid would result in because of the increased control and keeping the wheels turning while braking.

I do like some of the traction control systems out there while driving. It is nice in slick conditions to avoid unwanted spins during acceleration. Haven't really put any of them to the test while braking though, nothing I drive is new enough to have that level of integration. But the classic Positraction differential, and the newer limited-slip centers really are worthwhile if free of mechanical defects. Its likely that the electric assists found in newer cars would have similar results in bad weather.

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