* Posts by Shun F

21 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Nov 2007

Teen hacker re-unlocks Apple's iPhone

Shun F
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Because it was there

This reminds me of the days of PSone and Xbox hacks. Lots of folks went around reverse engineering the boxen, building and installing mod-chips, etc. Hey, it's not an Apple specific thing...really, what this is about is human curiosity and arbitrage.

If you have a black box, and you can play with it and get some secrets out of it, you're already a rockstar. Publish your work, and any code monkey, theoretically, can replicate your work. You've just employed a million eBay drones. Also, there are markets where Apple is barred from entering. Guess who's selling iPhones into these markets? Apple doesn't care, as long as they get the revenue from the individual phone. If the iPhone were being cloned at the hardware level, then they'd be pissed. Extra revenue from carriers is just icing on the cake (and good on them for pulling that out of AT&T).

The reason a phone can be carrier locked, in the U.S., is that there is no national standard for cellular access. Here, we have 2: CDMA and GSM. GSM also works in Europe, while CDMA is strongest in South Korea. This is a problem in the States because the two biggest carriers are AT&T (GSM), and Verizon (CDMA). Now, in order to satisfy carrier neutrality rules, you'd have to stick 2 antennas in the phone (or use a software-defined radio, but no, we're not going there, yet). Because the FCC is a bunch of cowards, there are no carrier neutrality rules, therefore, AT&T and Apple are allowed to have this cozy relationship.

It doesn't matter, though, as long as Apple is seen as relatively good, AT&T is seen as all evil, and the hacker scene is left to carve out its niche, things will go smoothly. If people wake up to the fact that Apple is quietly raking in a ton of dough, the citizens of this great nation may finally put a stop to forced vendor lock on handsets (yeah, right, like that's ever going to happen). Bottom Line: Apple does not care about AT&T's bottom line. If people choose to hack their iPhones let them.

I'm waiting for a fully functional N96 to cross the pond, so I can play with it. Until then, "old" Samsung for me.

Yahoo! formally! rejects! Microsoft! offer!

Shun F
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How does Yahoo make money?

Well, obviously, they are not making money, or else they wouldn't have laid off all of those workers, and become a nice juicy take-over target for M$. I do have a theory about money-making: selling user profiles. They can probably get away with this in the shadier jurisdictions that yahoo has a presence. Also, nothing prevents a U.S. corporation from transferring user profiles to a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary of Yahoo (hey, it's just data), which then goes on to sell the data to another wholly-owned non-U.S. subsidiary of a global advertiser.

I have serious doubts that an M$-Yahoo! combined army could take on Google. But, hey, I'm generally cynical. Just as I saw the AMD/ATi merger as a serious mistake, I see this attempt by Microsoft to grab a piece of the web as a serious strategic blunder (although Vista is perhaps their worst, but thankfully not their last). It will distort M$ strategy, and even if they manage to merge with someone, what will they do? Take over the brand and fire everyone who ever worked for the previous company? If they don't, then they'll spend years integrating the other company. Large-scale mergers like this do not go well, historically.

Think Dalmier-Chrysler. I don't particularly care if I'm wrong. If M$ pulls this off, I'll be very surprised. Interesting times, indeed.

Rocket train smashes world land-speed record

Shun F
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Rockets and Guns

OK, people, I probably don't need to explain this to everyone, but for the incredibly thick among you:

I think you'll find that regardless of actual need or the state of the budget, etc. the Navy, Air Force, and their ilk are likely to press for weapons development. Currently, the state of the art is a projectile launched from some sort of tube, which, when it strikes its target, explodes and causes all sorts of damage. The projectile can be launched from a so called "gun" which imparts all of its kinetic energy at once, or a "rocket" which trades chemical for kinetic energy as the projectile moves towards its target.

The "new generation" iterations of these ideas are the rail gun, and this mach 9 rocket sled. This was probably just a proof-of-concept test run, given the most favorable conditions possible. Would have been better had they tested this in space, but then what would the Russians or Chinese think? They'd be scared, or they'd race to develop weapons of this sort, also. So, ground testing it is.

I really does not matter what the warhead is, at these speeds. 100 lbs. (50 kilos) of cement traveling at mach 7-10 has so much kinetic energy that it tends to vaporize whatever it hits. Go ahead and classify the warhead. It's irrelevant. What these extremely high speeds tend to do is make it very difficult to intercept the projectile on its way to destroying the target.

The only thing that has a chance against both the "gun" and "rocket" version of these hypersonic projectiles is that South African kill bot that went crazy and decided to kill a few of its human operators.

Personally, I wouldn't want to put my own safety in the hands of a such a paranoid machine. It might decide *not* to intercept, just to spite the humans.

Oh, and a hydrogen-filled tunnel would burn when exposed to the exhaust gases coming out of the rocket motor, assuming, as most people do, that incomplete combustion occurred.

Secret bidder delivers 'open access' to US airwaves

Shun F
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US Appeals Court?

I am not sure if that sentence is grammatically, or factually, correct. What Verizon did was petition the U.S. court of appeals to decide on behalf of Verizon, against the decision of the FCC. The appeals court decided not to hear the case, apparently. Or it got dismissed on a summary judgment motion.

It was quite interesting to see the head-snapping U-turns by the major telecoms when Google announced their intent to play in their sandbox. You'd think the majors would welcome a little amateur competition...gee, what are you guys afraid of?

Luddite and paranoid - why the big record labels failed at digital

Shun F

Patronage? You're soaking in it

I am especially intrigued by this comment:

"The patrons are going to be largely commercial so brands that see an advantage to a certain kind of artist, and that is putting art far to close to commerce. That would mean marginal music wouldn't exist, you'd only have music that had a commercial upside for sponsors. That's a world none of us really want to see."

Just how is this different from the situation we presently have?

The Big 4 -- largely commercial, check.

Art suspiciously close to commerce, check.

Music with only a commercial upside for sponsors, check.

And you wonder why the youth of today stay away from music. Sure, some people rip, some people, download, some trade. That's been going on for ages. The music world is in its current decline because the artists being promoted by the MSM suck!

Get some serious artists out there, then you'll see an upsurge in sales.

Mystery web infection grows, but cause remains elusive

Shun F
Dead Vulture

Same people who did the Benazir Bhutto virus

Looks like it might be related to this issue:


Javascript worm? Sounds serious. Anyhoo, Finjan thinks they have a solution. Yeah, can't wait for the next one of these to come across and do some real damage.

US-Iranian naval clash: Radio trolls probably to blame

Shun F

Re: Mr./Ms. Coward

"there would have to have been some pretty powerful optics "coincidentally" scanning the area at this exact time."

No, there would have had to have been some radio receivers around at this time. The article makes clear that folks sitting around the Strait are probably listening on those "hailing frequencies". They must have heard the US Navy going apeshit about the speedboats and decided to have a laugh/see if they could cause an international incident.

You wouldn't need to see the incident to figure out what was going on. The Navy was pretty clear that they were attempting to communicate with several small ships in the area. Just transmit your prank on the same frequency, and you've got your story.

From the antics of the speedboats, they did not appear to want to communicate, at all, or there would have been some shaky garbled explanations with the sound of a high-rpm motor in the background. The fact that the "prank call" came in pretty clear, without any background noise, and even the transmissions from the Navy ship came with a little background noise (I'm assuming a USN destroyer/frigate/cruiser can be a noisy place), leads me to believe that the "prank call" came from a place of relative quiet, and not from the open deck of a speedboat.

What I want to know is: how would the United States react if Iranian gunboats came within 50 miles of Florida? Hey, they'd still be in international waters, but I doubt they'd get quite as good a reception as these USN folks got in the Straits of Hormuz.

Super Soaker inventor touts solid state heat-2-leccy

Shun F

Yeah, drop-in or add-on

I'd expect to see these in co-generation plants first. Besides, anyone who invented the Super Soaker probably knows how to get his tech out into the real world.

The only thing that concerns me is: high heat + high pressure hydrogen gas = Hindenburg? As many folks (I can't tell if they're anti-green or just anti-hydrogen) have pointed out hydrogen is just a medium of energy storage. Where do you store the hydrogen when the sun isn't shining? If you keep it in the heat engine, it will slowly leak out.

OK, I'm sure better minds than mine have tackled the hydrogen gas storage/inflammability problem. Maybe combine it with carbon to form methane...the lesser of two evils? Just throwing out random ideas here.

Also, Saudi Arabia may have loads of desert sand to play with, but so do multiple other countries. Nobody has a monopoly on sunlight (unless you're talking about Mr. Burns in the SunBlocker episode of the Simpsons). Also, you aren't going to run out of sunlight in the next 100,000 (give or take 5 million) years or so. I don't think even the non-peak-oil people believe that oil will last forever.

Darn...I was hoping that anti-matter would save/kill us all. I'd better get to the asteroids first.

Ofcom, US senators turn on to cognitive radio

Shun F

Scary smart radios

This is nothing more than fear-mongering on the part of old tech dinosaurs. The people developing this technology are very sensitive to the issue of interference.

Please see <a href="http://www.newamerica.net/files/WhiteSpaceDevicesBackgrounder120607.pdf">this </a> paper for more information.

The "white-space devices" people know that what's holding them back is not technology, but propaganda. If that were not true, why haven't the various regulators (FCC, Ofcom, more in Europe) walled off some territory so that we can practice blasting each other with RF? We have military bases, bombing ranges, swathes of land devoted to training children in the art of war, but strangely enough, no amount of land is designated an RF "free-fire zone".

This tech has been a long time coming, and the broadcasters who are screaming about potential harm to their business model are just going to have to deal with it. They could always just cloud out the white spaces with interference, if this new technology is such a threat. Personally, I think that it scares them to have to share their spectrum with a bunch of anarchists.

Americans, and to a certain extent Europeans, are so used to tuning in to a particular frequency to get their information, that it behooves them do things a different way. Really, what it will mean is the death of the FCC, because the FCC was created to resolve conflicts with frequency sharing and interference. This problem has been solved technologically.

Now, if only politics would catch up.

Nokia wins in Qualcomm case

Shun F

Why GSM?

Wasn't GSM instituted specifically to avoid Qualcomm's patents? Something about Qualcomm not wanting to share...

Anyway, I agree that patents are ridiculous. Patent squatters can tie up useful work and innovation for years. Hey, wasn't there a line in the Constitution...never mind.

The RAMBus debacle is a joke. They first went to JEDEC, signed all the agreements, agreed to license patents at 0 royalty, etc. They pulled out later, then sprung their patent trap. Absolute B.S.

RamBus should not exist today. They should be broken up, their officers never allowed to sit on a board again, in the U.S., and their offices sold to the Whole Foods down the street, or maybe turn it into another Starbucks. Nah, better just leave it vacant. It'll blend in better with all of the other vacant property in the Valley.

Flash-based iPlayer is go

Shun F

Thanks, dude!

Quote: "use Opera and look for the proxy Widget." Thank you for allowing me to circumvent BBC controls. I am sure that the BBC content-control police will thank you too, personally, using many fast-moving blunt objects. That is, if you are in the UK, and they can locate you.

I was surprised that this change even happened, considering the rather small minority of Linux users anywhere, quite frankly. I surmise that they went about this decision in the following way.

1. Roll out iPlayer, win32 version. Mac and Linux fanbois complain (ignore). iPlayer beta testers complain (what's this?) iPlayer loads unnecessary bloatware, trackers, cookies, etc. Oh, do we have a problem then?

2. Let's see what other people are doing...Youtube? Ah, interesting, iTMS (hmm, not much potential there, but we'll keep it on the back burner). Pornotube, Youporn, etc...hey! looks like we have a winner. Clean it up a little...deploy.

Now, wait for the whiners to come up with a new song....doesn't work on 64-bit Linux you say? (ignore)

Canadian runs up $85,000 mobe bill

Shun F

$3000 a month?

At those rates, it'd be cheaper to lay your own fiber. Around the world. Heck, anybody with that kind of money probably owns their own telecom. Anyway, the best idea would be to drop Rogers.

Go with a wireless plan which is honest about their data rates, and doesn't try to hide it in the T's & C's. Yes, the fine print tells all, but you shouldn't have to read the fine print in order to estimate costs. All costs should be up front. Any company that isn't this transparent isn't worth dealing with, period.

I was thinking about this as well: why is a modem not voice? Isn't it the point of a modem to translate computer speak into little grunts and gurgles that the phone can transmit as sound, to be translated back into computer speak on the other end? How is this not voice, or at least audio? So what if I can get more than 1 megabit/sec out of this? The only reason why 56k was considered fastest speed available is because the FCC said so, not for any technical reason. So, instead of sounding like a baritone, the audio is sped up to sound like a chipmunk. It's the same information.

Someone (not me, since I'm all thumbs and foggy-headed, to boot) is so going to hack this. Or we can just wait for 4G/WiMax/700MHz. Still, this whole voice/data wall is just waiting to be breached.

Opera hits Microsoft with EC complaint

Shun F

IP thieves without browsers

Cool quote:

"The only place Microsoft comes in is when MS called Linux a cancer, unamerican IP stealer that has lots of their IP (which you'll have to take their word for it, but it really is there, honest)."

Not only is Linux not American, it's written by a Finn, who is ethnically Swedish (Linus). OMFG!!! We have to get rid of those Swedish Finns who are polluting our American Culture by introducing disgusting "free software" into our world. Not to mention all of those educational institutions who enslave "students" to produce software, for free!!!, in the name of "education" whatever that is. "Hello World" is just an insidious Communist plot, I tell you.

Also, everyone knows IP is an American construct designed to rake in the dough and pile it at media mogul's feet. Nobody but Americans and their lapdogs cares a whit about copyright, patents, or trade secrets. Doubt me? Then I have a legitimate copy of Windows (Chinese-language version) to sell you.

"Maybe call it "ftp", so that it isn't so long to type the command in."

Yeah, I'm a big fan of the old ftp. Probably couldn't hurt to point out that you can also email a tiny or zipped browser your buddy, if he was missing a browser. You could use WinZip (bundled) to open it up. Which brings me to the point of...why is Outlook Express bundled with MS operating systems?

Why is Outlook bundled with Office? OK, enough anti-M$ rant. I think M$ is doing just a fine job...damn fine job you're doing there, Billy.

Dismantling a Religion: The EFF's Faith-Based Internet

Shun F

EFF a bunch of idealists?

Well, sure, we all want our internet experience to be free from the interference of our ISP. Maybe it's unreasonable to expect total freedom when seeding 30 files from our cable connection. I am going to distract you all from the real issue, however, and talk about disclosure.

Perhaps the outrage that we feel in the "internet community" is not so much that Comcast is using it's market dominance to block Bit-Torrent uploads. The problem is that they are not honest about what they are doing. Sure, we can argue all day about whether Comcast has the "right" to be doing what it is doing, and whether their actions constitute "fraud, abuse, or neglect" and all of the serious ramifications of those words. Honestly, I am less concerned about Comcasts' packet spoofing than I am about their subsequent attempt to cover up their actions.

If Comcast were to just come out and say what they were doing, this would have blown over much more quickly. EFF, EPIC, and all the usual CyberLiberties folks would turn up the flames for a couple of months. Once people figured out a way around it, no one would mind. It'd be just another cat and mouse game. Comcast's obstufication regarding this issue only calls into question Comcast's integrity in general. What else are they not telling their customers?

Customers in Britain and elsewhere are aware that broadband internet service providers use misleading terms when attempting to sell their service. Specifically, they use the term "Unlimited" when they really mean "maximum of 3GB per month, up or down." This kind of thing really makes customers angry. This latest Comcast debacle just feeds into that anger.

Another troubling precedent: why are we stuck in DOCSIS 1.1 land? How long have we been here, and why hasn't bandwidth in the States moved forward with the rest of the OECD? There are obviously bigger issues here, but I just wanted to point out that if Comcast is limiting upload bandwidths to 384kb/s, then it's really no one else but Comcast's fault when people finally start using that bandwidth, 10 years or more after the advent of the cable modem.

This seems to be a chronic problem endemic to Stateside broadband providers but I am going to air it out here anyway: broadband providers here tend to worry more about pay packets for CEO's, lobbyists, and lawyers than they do about improving their networks. If they just concentrated on building faster networks and improving customer service, and spent less time and effort acting like big media companies, people would feel a lot more sympathy for them.

They might even get some cooperation from the Bit-Torrent community, although that's highly unlikely.

Merseyside health authority gives away staff data

Shun F

It's actually "Data Security, we've heard of it"

To coin a register moniker. Anyway, some of us on the other side of the pond were wondering if we could borrow your data security for a while.

For some reason, here in the U.S., there's been a rash of data destruction, but no losses, to speak of. Either nothing is being lost or...the press has just destroyed a story about data being lost...oh, I forgot.

Anyway, it seems like this is happening more frequently there in the U.K. and I was wondering, what's your secret? How is it that these stories are piling up, without either a government clampdown on information or some sort of corrective action?

Seems the best practice would be to encrypt, but dear me. Perhaps I'm an old fuddy-duddy. I mean, if you're going to send anything through the post, the last thing that could happen is that it get lost, eh? Seems almost impossible that such a thing could occur. Best just rely on blind luck, then. Right.

Having said that, I do wish a few interrogation tapes got "lost in the mail" instead of "confirmed destroyed". *Sigh*

Google flaunts white space wireless magic

Shun F

White Space Madness

Originally, I thought that Google was sending messages in white spaces between text. Somehow Google is using the space between the quotes: " " here to say something like, "Order me a large pizza, extra anchovies." I thought that was cool (ah, but what are they really saying between the words "large" and "pizza"?)

Then I realized that this was a story about some idiotic fight between local TV stations and Google. Yeah, like local TV has a chance. Tell ya what? Let's use the 70/70 rule. When 70% of your local audience can get broadcast television to function, using plain old 1950's rabbit ears, and when 70% of your potential audience actually uses rabbit ears, as opposed to cable or satellite, which are the sensible alternatives, then we'll talk.

I remember the days before cable (yes, I am a very, very old man). When our family moved to Suburban Southern California (some time between the Great Depression and the Dot-Com Boom) we could get 2 channels, locally, using broadcast receivers (the aforementioned rabbit ears). Later, our neighbors taught us that you can run a wire around the house to pick up better signal. Guess what? 2 channels. It seems like the local broadcasters are squatting on this signal space because they plan to...I don't know, seek rents? Are they passing it down to their next of kin? The space has been underutilized for years.

If Google wants to make use of it, I say let them. If they have a method for avoiding interference (something along the lines of a software-defined radio, perhaps) then OK, fine. Will Google be so stupid as to step on channel 51 while broadcasting on channel 52? Are we still in the dark ages? Can I rub two sticks together and light a fire? If the local channels are too incompetent to either over-power Google's feeble signal, or some how deal with this encroachment on their territory, they can either join or die.

I am not in favor of allowing local stations to be pointlessly unique for the purpose of uniqueness, per se. On the other hand, I am concerned that local programming will die out. If I am allowed to broadcast on say, the Milpitas Google 52 channel, and you out there in TV land can see my string band play on this awesome public access channel, I fail to see the problem. Now, if we can only wrest the broadcast rights away from the UC Regents, we could stream Cal Football games on the Internet.

Go Pirate Bears!

Megan's Law snafu fingered in rapist's murder

Shun F

Incarcerate? Why not?

Regardless of whether you believe that this particular individual was bound to rape again, it's a little hypocritical to support the use of murder to prevent a rape.

We already have the highest rate of incarceration in the U.S., as opposed to other countries. Are U.S.ians just better criminals?

I love this line, "Police have yet to assign a motive for the slaying" like they need to assign a motive to decide whom to prosecute. "All the physical evidence points to this guy, but gosh darn it, we just can't find a motive. Oh, well, you're free to go." At least we don't have the smartest cops on the planet (that may be contributing to the lack of a functional criminal justice system).

The core of the story is: he was mis-classified as a threat to juveniles. The fact that he raped adults is, unfortunately, irrelevant. He could have been a bank robber. If he was mis-classified; they got it wrong; period. You would think after 20 years in prison, he would have been unwilling to go back there. Or, he would have been so messed up, he probably wouldn't have been functional, period.

At any rate, unless you support the death penalty for rapists, and you are willing to carry out that sentence yourself, I don't see how you can support the vigilante. Obviously, living in a trailer park has not made this father any more intelligent. The fact is, any other person living in that trailer park, including the father, would be just as likely to molest his son. [tasteless joke here] I was going to say something about eliminating competition...na, I'm going to get enough crap from all the law and order types already.

Guess which section of the population goes through mucho divorces, domestic violence, and general damage to their families? Cops and prison guards.

Just who's watching the watchmen? Obviously not the vigilantes.

Counterfeit Vista rate half that of XP

Shun F

When will it hit them?

I am wondering when M$ will finally get a clue and realize that Vista is a bloated piece of crap, and they must start over from scratch if they want to sell anything, ever, again.

M$ is like all empires: arrogant, self-deceiving, and ultimately, futile. They seem to have finally hit their Waterloo moment. Now, they have a choice. They can throw good money after bad, and deepen the crisis, making Vista the last product ever to come out of Microsoft as a commercial entity, or they can run back to the drawing board.

M$ is competing with the massive installed base of Windows XP pirates. The XP folks already have a functional operating system, and it cost them nothing. Are they going to take a chance on an upgrade, knowing that nobody in industry, government, or anywhere else has done so? Why? The only way M$ is going to "win" this game is if they make upgrading to Vista mandatory for all institutional purchasers (government, education, etc.) For various political reasons, this is not feasible.

Remember IBM? Remember when it meant something to have a Cray supercomputer? Heck, I still remember when there were computer labs in the basement of the math(s) building of my local land-grant university. The model of computing has changed, but M$ has stubbornly refused to change with it. If M$ is to survive at all, it will most likely become a niche player. It'll sell something called OS's to people with antiquated "desktop computers". Worst case: Bill Gates presides over the most spectacular collapse in modern human history.

Thanks, Microsoft. The view from down here is fabulous.

Green irony? Tech vendors don't get it

Shun F

Huh? I thought cars were the cause of greenhouse gases

Seemed pretty obvious to me. Usually, when W is being obstinate about something, it means he's trying to protect his friends. All of his friends are in the oil business, mainly because big oil is the only lobby with people more creepy than Bush himself.

As for a legacy, Bush can afford to write his own legacy and make up whatever facts he wants. His kids aren't going to suffer, not nearly as much as the children being born in Iraq today. So they can't brag to all their the rich friends at the country club. Big whup. Stick them in Guantanamo for a week. That'll learn 'em.

Nokia jumps on mobile ad-wagon

Shun F

I don't understand the point of this story

The first sentence highlights the problem: "In its bid to bring the full internet experience to the mobile device, Nokia will need to formulate a clear strategy for mobile advertising..." So Nokia is going to create a side-channel on all of its phones exclusively to beam advertising? Does anyone else see the security/comedy aspect to this?

This is such an odd move for Nokia. I thought they were a handset company. Are they no good at that? Can they no longer innovate in this space? I can see an MVNO or retail wireless operator pulling this ("Don't want ads? Pay us $20 extra per month!")

Nokia doing this makes no sense. It's like going to sleep with the IBM of 1970 and waking up to IBM of 2007. Software as a Service? I wanted Big Iron.

Random number bug blights FreeBSD

Shun F

Better random number generators

There was once a suggestion that the best way to generate random numbers was to collect keyboard strokes, add in a little mouse movement, hash a few random files, and add the time since the operating system was booted, in milliseconds to the equation. The problem with the last suggestion is that an attacker can very easily figure out boot time, if your system has a predictable boot-to-on-the-network delay.

A better suggestion would be to collect a database of all machines on the internet that have BSOD'ed and their times. The time, machine name, windows version, login name, last application used, all of that could be used as "salt". The problem would be creating the database, in the first place. That, and eventually running out of disk space as the log fills up with multiple gigabytes of BSOD info.