* Posts by John Ridley

33 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Apr 2007

Linksys router ripe for remote takeover

John Ridley

Stock firmware = fail

The right answer for routers is to buy one compatible with OSS firmwares and flash in Tomato or DD-WRT or one of the others. THOSE communities actively fix issues. Commercial firmwares may never get fixed.

Also I've found OSS firmwares to be ALWAYS FAR more stable than the stock firmwares.

WRT-54GL or Asus WL-500G are both good choices for this. Also I think there is one manufacturer that ships the router with an OSS firmware already installed.

RE default passwords - how hard would it be for router manufacturers to make the first HTTP connection from the LAN side come up with a page requiring them to set a decent password? And a reset button of course WHEN they forget it, which again required them to set a decent password. This would be absolutely trivial.

Intel says new PCs will cost you nothing

John Ridley
Thumb Down

Payback time = infinity

My current machine is 5 years old. It's 100% of what I need; any more PC would go unused. it does everything I need to do on it immediately, a faster machine would gain me nothing.

Tell me again how I get payback from replacing it?

If we're talking about reduced power consumption, well, if my company was worried about that, they probably wouldn't build barely-insulated crackerbox buildings then put 1200 tons of A/C on them, or run a couple hundred kilowatts of lighting at night when there's nobody here.

Woman jailed for texting while driving

John Ridley

If you want to kill somone...

use a car. If they're in another car or a pedestrian, you'll probably just get a few months in jail. If they're riding a bicycle, just say you "didn't see them" and you'll probably be back on the streets tomorrow.

Phones to be powered by speech?

John Ridley

Douglas Adams would like it

In order to keep your phone charged, you have to yak all the time. Yeesh, people talk too much as it is.

Maybe it would work from ambient sound too. I only talk on my mobile about 3 to 5 minutes a month, at most.

Asus: $200 netbooks next year

John Ridley

Almost there already

I just bought an MSI Wind for $299 (admittedly, after rebate), but that was actually a pretty usable computer with 1G RAM, 120G HD and a 1.6 GHz CPU. And these machines were > $600 6 months ago. I wouldn't be surprised to see just normal price reductions to get what's already on the market down within spitting distance of $200 in the next year anyway, even without any innovations or cost-cutting measures.

How geeks helped win the war

John Ridley

eBook version plz?

Looks very interesting. I'll buy it when there's a DRM-free ebook version. Sony format preferred.

Group Test: electronic book readers

John Ridley
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PDFs on the Sony - UPDATE your FIRMWARE

Users of Sony PRS readers should be aware that Sony recently released a firmware update that allows text of PDF files to reflow. With this one firmware release, PDFs on the Sony went from almost useless to quite usable.

I do agree that PDF is a LOUSY ebook format, but it's what's available much of the time.

It also adds support for the EPUB format, which I don't use but more supported files are always good.

If you haven't updated your firmware, do it now.

Sony PRS-505 Reader e-book

John Ridley
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Now if the publishers would just "get it"

I've owned a 505 for a few months now, and it's probably my favorite device. I've always read more on a portable device since I can have it with me easier than paper books. I've never been a very fast reader, but I'm finding that my reading speed is increasing quite a bit since I started using the Sony. It's more comfortable to curl up with than a paperback since I don't have to hold it open, and I don't have to shift position for left/right side reading.

So far most publishers either don't do ebooks at all, or they price them the same as hardcovers (seriously, WTF?) - it's common to see $5.99 for softcover, $15 for hardcover, $18 for ebook. I don't even know what they're thinking there.

Or they have DRM. I've vowed not to buy ANY DRMd ebooks. Depending on your reading preferences, there may be tons of stuff out there that is free or at least doesn't have DRM. Baen Books _really_ gets it - they sell ebooks for a few bucks less than the paperback price, often just $4 or so, and they have a good selection of books from their popular science fiction authors available for free in their free library.

Baen books is currently the only publisher that's gotten ANY of my money, because they're the only company that is giving me what I want. And because I respect what they're doing, I'm also doing the right thing and keeping my paid-for copies to myself, but I *could* sell them if I wanted to, or I suppose give them away (and delete my copies). Same as with paper.

Also there's the mobileread.com community - if something is PD (especially if it's available in the Gutenberg library) some kind soul on mobileread has probably already done an excellent job of formatting it for your reader. I just read Orwell's 1984 a few weeks ago, and the Sony LRF copy on mobileread was very nicely done indeed.

Amazon Kindle set to go massive

John Ridley

In praise of...

I have a Sony reader, and I am getting a LOT more reading done than when I read on paper.

I don't have time to get to bookstores much, but I can get an eBook online in 30 seconds. Also, I've got currently about 300 books in my reader (4GB card) - I don't have a real plan for what to read next, I just keep a few dozen things on there and pick one when I finish the last book. It's nice to be able to pick any book out of the library while waiting for an appointment or at lunch.

As for "useless when the power is out" - a charge on the Sony reader will last 7500 page turns, which is about 10 good-sized novels (there's not quite as many words to a page on the Sony). It's true, if you can't get near any kind of power for the time it takes you to read 10 full novels, you'll run out of power. This isn't a huge problem for me, maybe others live in the woods or often have power outages that last a week or two (or perhaps they read more than 2 or 3 novels a day). Personally I take mine on 2 week vacations and don't bother to pack a charger.

I find it much more comfortable to curl up with the Sony reader than with a paperback. I don't have to hold the thing open, and I don't have to shift around every other page to read the left, then the right page, when I'm lying down.

BTW, count me as a huge fan of Baen books. I give them as much money for ebooks as I can, for they're about the only company that "gets it" - non DRM books (which I respect and DO NOT share) for cheaper than paperbacks, usually $4 or so, and I bet if any extra is made from the eBook, Baen passes a chunk of it to the author, because they're an ethical company.

@Matt - NO common book being printed today will last more than perhaps a hundred years or so. Even after 50 years, paperbacks are looking pretty ratty; the cheap paper just falls apart.

Steve Fossett may be alive, investigator claims

John Ridley

other missing planes

IIRC, at least most of those other planes had been missing for decades - before the advent of satellite imagery for S&R operations. If they had gone down in the last 10 years they probably would have been found before now.

Right after Fossett's disappearance they ran an online distributed eyeballs search of the satellite imagery, which I participated in. I don't think it's likely that they missed anything; even cars were easily visible, and the trees in the area weren't dense enough to have hidden a recently-crashed plane.

Sony to bring E Ink eBook reader to UK in September

John Ridley

My favorite device

I've had one for a couple of months, and my reading has gone far up as a result. I find it much more comfortable to use than a paper book; easier to hold and just as easy to read. It keeps my place in any number of books without me worrying about it. It boots up faster than I can open a book. I find I read faster and more comfortably on this than on paper, and I can get more curled up with it because I don't need to move much to change pages, and I don't have to fumble to turn only one page as I do with some books. I bicycle to work and this is easier to pack than a hardcover and fatter softcovers, plus I have several hundred books on hand if I tire of what I'm reading.

Since buying this, I have only read things that are published in OPEN digital formats, or pirated copies of books that I own a legal paper copy of. I finally got around to reading HP book 7 on this while camping; the actual paper book was too big to bring with, and also whenever I bring a paper book camping, it's ruined by the time I get home due to the humidity curling the covers. No problem with that here.

I'm really hoping the publishing industry gets a clue soon; there are a lot of books available for the Kindle, for instance, that aren't available for any other reader. Personally I really want non-DRM content; it'd have to be quite a book to buy a DRMd version (I can't think of a book I want that bad offhand).

John Ridley

Some comments on comments

PDF sucks because PDF is a page layout format, and does not reflow with different sized devices. It's not a suitable format for any device which can't display in the format the page was intended for. There are solutions; you can run the PDF through software to make the PDF "flowable" or you can convert the book to another format - there are very user-friendly, free programs to do this.

My battery life has been very good with this. I typically only charge it every couple of novels, and I've never had the battery get below about 1/3 charge or so, so I assume I could get 3 novels read, at least. A faster reader than me should be able to get more than that.

Most 'malfunctioning' gadgets work just fine, report claims

John Ridley

This has been the case for a long time

I owned part of a PC clone making shop 15 or so years ago. For our own use (personal and in-shop) we would buy returned merchandise from our suppliers at about 25 cents on the dollar. About 75% of that was OK, and that was from a wholesaler. People would order stuff then just not want it, or not understand how to use it, or decide it didn't do what they wanted, and claim it was 'defective'.

We never sold any of the stuff, that wouldn't have been honest, but we got some great deals ourselves that way. Heck, I got a 200 MEGABYTE hard drive for only a couple hundred bucks! It was HUGE!

Ubuntu man Shuttleworth dissects Hardy Heron's arrival

John Ridley

@Matty B - "The distributions"

"..remember when Debian, Red Hat and SuSE were "the" distributions? Now it seems no matter where I look, this blasted Ubuntu is popping up."

Actually, I remember when Slackware was "The distribution" and downloaded it on a dozen floppy disks - it was several years after I started using Linux before these upstart Red Hat, Debian and SuSE things popped up. Upstarts. I tried them all and they're OK, and I'd still be OK with Slackware, but for the desktop, I quite like Ubuntu. I never got comfortable with the others.

Awed fraudsters defeated by UK's passport interviews

John Ridley

Tiger repellant

Remember the joke about the salesman selling tiger repellant?

"There's not a tiger within 100 miles of here!"

"See how well it works!"

Clearly, the interview process is terrorist repellant.

Or, just as likely, their peril-sensitive sunglasses are terrorist repellants. If you can't see terrorists, then they don't exist.

Oregon man stripped by Craigslist looters

John Ridley

Secure his stuff? Right.

Have any of you that are suggesting "securing" stuff ever even been near a farm? It's simply not possible to secure all your stuff and still get your work done. Most farms around where I grew up simply don't have the indoor space to store all their equipment. Sure, you can lock your car and lock your house, but locking up every piece of equipment and every outbuilding gets expensive and time consuming really fast.

Further, apart from idiotic stuff like this, there's generally no need. I live in a farm area and hardly anyone even locks their house door. I'd be extremely surprised to find that ANYONE locked their barn.

Where I grew up if we needed some equipment we didn't have and the neighbors did, we just went to their place and borrowed it, leaving a note. We'd just bring it back in better shape than we got it, doing repairs or whatever, in payment. Nobody locked anything, and AFAIK it's still that way there.

Treehuggers lose legal fight to solar-powered neighbour

John Ridley

Idiots without forethought

What kind of a moron spends $70,000 on solar panels in a location that a 5 minutes site review would reveal would be shaded by those trees?

This is as bad as the idiots that build a "house in the country" then try to sue the pig farm next door to stop smelling so bad.

If the trees were there before either the solar panels or the law, then they're absolutely right; you shouldn't be able to be made a criminal after the fact.

Either this guy can't see past 5 minutes from now, or he believes that the whole world should bend to his whim. I'd be kind of surprised if there wasn't SOME location on his property that didn't get enough sunlight; build the panels there.

Geordie cops arrest two for Wi-Fi squatting

John Ridley

No crime

If I leave my WiFi unencrypted, it's because I WANT people to be able to use it. If I don't want them to, I turn on the encryption. It's not that difficult.

Hopefully the police checked with the homeowner in question; I would think that the homeowner would have to press charges; they're the (possibly) wronged party. If not, IMHO there's no case.

Price, not format war fears, holds back Blu-ray, says survey

John Ridley

Well duh

Anyone who's been buying electronics for more than a few years knows that very soon both the players and the movies will be commoditized. I have a 720p projector and a 100" screen, but I still use DVDs (with a decent upsampling player). I'm not going HD until I can get a player for $100 and movies for $15.

Honestly I'd pay more for the player, but as others have pointed out, anyone with a brain knows that the real cost of a technology is the ongoing cost; software costs more than the PC, CDs cost more than the stereo, and movie discs add up to FAR more than the cost of the player. If I could get HD movies for $10-15, I'd probably be willing to shell out perhaps $200 for a player. Until then, I'll just wait.

Spamford Wallace's MySpace riches come under attack

John Ridley

Just wondering...

I know it's probably a silly question, but I wonder... has it ever even crossed this guy's mind to try to make a buck in any way other than by scamming people? No, I thought not. What a wart.

Animal rights activist hit with RIPA key decrypt demand

John Ridley

Time for random files

OK, I thought it was a bit of a silly idea at first, but I'm starting to think differently.

I think it's time to put a program on your hard drive that creates files with random bytes (Linux users can just dd -(size) /dev/random foo). Create a bunch of files. Leave the program on the machine. Create some real truecrypt volumes with nothing much in them.

You can demonstrate that any one of the files could have been created by either truecrypt or that program. Can they throw you in jail for not revealing the encryption keys for a file that they can't possibly know for sure is actually encrypted data? ISTM that if they can't state as a certainty that file "c:\_d88t222.tc" is an encrypted volume, versus "c:\52_33jkav.tc", they're on pretty shaky ground.

You can stand in court and demonstrate creating random files, and you can demonstrate that there's no way to determine whether any one file is encrypted data or just noise.

For fun, write a program that analyzes the bytes in a random files for frequency of each byte, distribution, bit patterns, etc. Let's see if they want to say that they're throwing you in jail for having the hobby of analyzing random number generators for patterns.

Creative Zen media player

John Ridley

Reviewer should become more familiar with interface

Sounds like a similar interface to all the other Zen players.

What you describe sounds exactly right; you select an artist, then select a track, you're telling it to play THAT TRACK. If you want to play everything from that artist, then hit PLAY when you've highlighted the artist. If you drill down and select a track then hit play, then you're telling it to play THAT TRACK.

Same with albums. You highlight the album you want to play, and hit PLAY. If you drill down, you're selecting a single track to play.

Once you realize this, the interface makes perfect sense. Zen players have been like this for a while; my Micro and Vision:M are like this.

Confused BBC tech chief: Only 600 Linux users visit our website

John Ridley

Maybe because the site is braindead under linux?

A friend and I have both tried to view video on the BBC website using Firefox under Ubuntu. No luck, just doesn't work. The same browser will display video anywhere else.

Seagate targets sensitive customers with encrypted HDDs

John Ridley

Where's the trust?

Unless they open-source the firmware and it's analyzed by cryptologists, it can't be trusted.

No encryption with closed source should be trusted. If it were actually good encryption, they'd be happy to have everyone look at the source and bolster their image as secure. If they keep it secret, the obvious assumption is that it's not very good and they want to keep that a secret.

Better to use Truecrypt - Open source and not cracked yet.

Movie pirate forced to ditch Linux

John Ridley

Fixed the quote for him:

relatively unemployable with the two felonies that t/h/e/y/ /g/a/v/e/ /m/e/ I COMMITTED.

Telstra sex romp woman back on the job

John Ridley

RE: would you employ this woman?

If you wouldn't employ the woman, then be sure to fire the men involved as well.

Personally I'd have no problem with it. People are way the hell too uptight.

US Navy seeks hydrogen-powered forklifts

John Ridley

This is unfortunate

Hydrogen is a purely political response to environmental concerns. As is pointed out in the article, it's not a primary fuel, it's just a means of storing energy. Even current battery technology is far more efficient, especially when you consider the cost of producing and transporting hydrogen, versus the cost of squirting electricity down a wire (which is lossy but not as lossy as loading it on a truck and driving it around).

They should be pushing for better batteries or capacitors, not creating pork projects to encourage dead-end hydrogen technology.

Yangtze river dolphin is an ex-cetacean

John Ridley

RE: So? again

Yes, the earth, and the universe are doomed.

Apparently you think that makes life worthless? Hopefully not everyone thinks like that. If so, then there's no point whatsoever in discouraging any kind of "bad" behavior. Steal, murder, lie, whatever, it doesn't matter, because in 100 years everyone will be dead anyway.

I appreciate the beauty of the earth. I choose to try to leave as much of it as possible to future generations, whether my children, yours, or some chinese I'll never meet. They're as worthy as we are. The accident of having been born before them does not give us the right to steal from them.

Latest AACS crack 'beyond revocation'

John Ridley

Soldering apparently not necessary

Several people on another article on the subject say that the desoldering attack is old news, and a few days after it was published another attack was announced that was software only.

Also it should be noted that it's not necessary for everyone who wants to crack AACS to have one of these hacked drives. All that's necessary is for someone, somewhere in the world, to have a drive, then use that drive to extract the key, then publish the key. Boom, everyone can decode the discs.

If all this is true, they might as well give up, they've well and truly lost and all they're doing by revoking keys, etc, is irritating their legitimate customers by forcing equipment upgrades, and wasting their time and money. They won't be stopping a single person who wants to make backups of their discs.

From 1981: the World's first UMPC

John Ridley

Model 100

I still have three TRS-80 model 100s in the basement. I used them for a time a couple of years ago taking notes at the telescope in the dark, because they have very nice keyboards and will run many nights on a set of AA batteries, and transferring the documents to a PC via serial cable still works fine.

I've switched to a voice recorder since then, but the Model 100s still work fine.

A lot of journalists, especially those in less developed areas of the world, typed up their stories on Model 100s for a number of years.

The Model 100s had a fair amount of addon tech for them, including a 3.5" floppy, some aftermarket storage stuff such as the stringy floppy, and would interface to standard printers via a parallel port. It had a built-in 300 baud modem and came with a modular connector, and an acoustic coupler was available as an add-on.

Apple TV hackers called to create open source set-top

John Ridley


Gee, COMPOSITE OUT. What is this, the 80's?

I'd expect at least DVI if not HDMI. And 480p max resolution? Get real. This thing's like a portable media player without the screen, not a serious set-top box.

Japanese actress caught in sheep 'poodle' scam

John Ridley

No vets?

Is it normal for people, even celebrities, in Japan to never take their animals to the vet for regular medical care? Surely a vet would have set these people straight.

HP claims latest printer a record-breaker

John Ridley

NEW technology???

I remember multi-head high speed dot matrix impact printers back in the 80s. The motors they needed to jiggle 5 or 6 hefty impact heads back and forth at about 5 times a second was impressive, and the things could shake a flimsy table apart in minutes.