Author Archives: pappp

Hacking Ham Radio for Texting

Source: Hacker News

Article note: I'd like to see some more bands put under a regulatory situation similar to the SRD rules some of the ISM Bands allow unlicensed use under (that's the familiar 902-928Mhz, 2.4-2.5Ghz, and 5.725-5.875 GHz bands and rules that basically all useful modern consumer RF devices work in). Especially some VHF/UHF bands (like the 13cm allocation just below the 2.4Ghz range used for WiFi/Bluetooth/Etc.) that would be give existing applications more legroom, but also some longer and shorter stuff to see what kind of fun things consumer devices can do with modern radios and encodings in those. I can hear Elmers and commercial operators (see:C-Band politicking during the 5G rollout over the last few years) and such shrieking in the distance already. Europe is trying some slightly-tighter-reg unlicensed use of 863-870 MHz band for LPWAN applications for the last several years that seem like a good model.
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“Click to subscribe, call to cancel” is illegal, FTC says

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Oh please oh Please oh Please. Please don't be unenforced "illegal" like so many scams, but actually come after fuckers with meaningful fines for their roach-motel subscription systems.
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Something Awful founder Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka dead at 45

Source: Boing Boing

Article note: SA was never a community that I had any interest in, but it sure did have a lot of influence, and created some memorable content. I do miss the era of people spinning and managing internet communities, it's all soulless corporate overlords and actual Nazis now.

Richard Kyanka, better-known as Lowtax, died yesterday at 45. Kyanka was the founder and longtime operator of Something Awful, the sprawling web forum from which much web culture emerged. The news was announced there in a thread that quickly grew to hundreds of pages of bullshit before being summarily locked by admins—the perfect tribute. — Read the rest

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The Surreal Horror of Pam

Source: Hacker News

Article note: PAM is truly a horror, it's one of those things you are faintly aware is in your system, and every additional detail you know about it makes you more averse to seeing more. The HN comments from the well-meaning people who were involved in its creation are an interesting read.
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Playstation 5 root keys obtained

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Good ol' fail0verflow. Took about a year this time. Can't wait for the hilarious talk where they explain how Sony messed up.
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Please Shrink the Trackpad

Source: Hacker News

Article note: I'm always mystified by the love for the modern large Apple Trackpads. I even like touchpads. Part of what I like is that I don't want to have to move my wrist to use them, and looking at the wear patterns on most people's macbooks, neither do they, the rest of the area is just for gimmicks and palm detection failure. I like physical feedback - not just to confirm that the software has decided I meant to click, but to reference my finger against - from real buttons. The nicest touchpad I've used in years is the one on my Precision 7450. Three real hardware buttons with good tactile switches under them. Just a little bigger than I can traverse with fingers alone. Centered on the spacebar.
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Chromebooks on “massive downturn” from pandemic-fueled heights

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: Imagine that, machines which are just (cheap, rugged) dumb terminals to access big organization-run compute environments had a spike in demand during the pandemic-induced remote schooling boom and then it crashed.
Chromebooks on “massive downturn” from pandemic-fueled heights

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

Although PCs are still selling at a greater volume than before the COVID-19 pandemic, demand is starting to drop. In Q3 2021, shipments of laptops, desktops, and tablets dropped 2 percent compared to Q3 2020, according to numbers that researcher Canalys shared on Monday. Interest in Chromebooks dropped the most, with a reported decline as high as 36.9 percent. Demand for tablets also fell, showing a 15 percent year-on-year decline, according to Canalys.

Chromebooks’ “massive downturn”

Both Canalys and the IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker shared Q3 numbers for Chromebooks and tablets on Monday. Canalys said 5.8 million Chromebooks shipped globally during this time, while the IDC said the number was 6.5 million. Both pointed to a huge decline compared to Q3 2020. Canalys reported the drop at 36.9 percent, and IDC pegged it at 29.8 percent.

Canalys said that Q3 Chromebook sales took a "major downturn" as the education markets in the US, Japan, and elsewhere became saturated. Demand lessened as government programs supporting remote learning went away, the research group said. After reaching a high of 18 percent market share since the start of 2020, Chromebooks reportedly represented just 9 percent of laptop shipments in Q3 2021.

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SPARCbook 3000ST: The coolest 90s laptop (2019)

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Tadpole's unusual architecture laptops (SPARC, Alpha, and PowerPC workstations in laptops!) were weird objects of impractical desire in the 90s, and are still weird objects of impractical desire decades later. Always fun to see them.
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Core scheduling lands in Linux 5.14

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Scheduling on weird modern (not that SMT is a new thing) vaguely-heterogeneous machines continues to be the next big OS problem. Linux is not the best at it right now, but these new core (rather than tread) affinity scheduling controls are a good step.
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Hiding Vulnerabilities in Source Code

Source: Schneier on Security

Article note: Complexity always has costs. Unicode is absurdly complex to allow it to not just represent goddamn everything, but to mix all those things together, and we pay for that shit everywhere it appears. My usual preference is "make parsers vigorously flag and/or refuse to allow mixed pages."

Really interesting research demonstrating how to hide vulnerabilities in source code by manipulating how Unicode text is displayed. It’s really clever, and not the sort of attack one would normally think about.

From Ross Anderson’s blog:

We have discovered ways of manipulating the encoding of source code files so that human viewers and compilers see different logic. One particularly pernicious method uses Unicode directionality override characters to display code as an anagram of its true logic. We’ve verified that this attack works against C, C++, C#, JavaScript, Java, Rust, Go, and Python, and suspect that it will work against most other modern languages.

This potentially devastating attack is tracked as CVE-2021-42574, while a related attack that uses homoglyphs –- visually similar characters –- is tracked as CVE-2021-42694. This work has been under embargo for a 99-day period, giving time for a major coordinated disclosure effort in which many compilers, interpreters, code editors, and repositories have implemented defenses.

Website for the attack. Rust security advisory.

Brian Krebs has a blog post.

EDITED TO ADD (11/12): An older paper on similar issues.

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