Category Archives: Sufficiently Advanced Technology

Dear Verizon Wireless

There was nothing in the documentation to suggest that 4000 or so Google contacts and 196 apps (including all the cruft you pre-loaded on my phone and I cannot remove), would bork the Droid Incredible 2.

Anyway, I don’t have 4000 contacts. The phone, or the phone-Google connection, seems to have systematically put in multiple entries for the ones I do have due to some weird effect of matching contacts.

And most of the apps are very small.

Oh, and did I mention that the DINC2 startup screen (pictured) always makes me think of the Eye of Sauron?

Posted in Android, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 2 Comments

Pacemaker Recipient Wants Source Code to Know What’s in Her Body

Interesting issue:

Lawyer Karen Sandler’s heart condition means she needs a pacemaker-defibrillator to avoid sudden death, so she has one simple question: what software does it run?

Yet it turns out that it’s impossible for her to see and understand the technology that’s being installed into her own body and upon which her life depends. Regulatory authorities don’t see or review the software either.

Despite the Australian provenance of the “Cyborg lawyer demands software source” story, this is the same Karen Sandler who is executive director of the GNOME Foundation, lives in New York, and has http://punkrocklawyer.com/.

Spotted via Slashdot.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Wendy Grossman Wants Me to Fear My Printer

Wendy is not an alarmist sort of person, and she has me scared. In Printers on Fire, she tells the tale of Columbia computer science professor Sal Stolfo and PhD student Ang Cui, who have figured out how to hack routers and set printers on fire by printing a suitably doctored c.v.

There’s an employment-related joke in there somewhere, I’m sure, but I’m still stuck on this part:

“In every LAN there are enormous numbers of embedded systems in every machine that can be penetrated for various purposes,” says Cui.

“We turned off the motor and turned up the fuser to maximum.” Result: browned paper and…smoke.

How? By embedding a firmware update in an apparently innocuous print job. This approach is familiar: embedding programs where they’re not expected is a vector for viruses in Word and PDFs.

“We can actually modify the firmware of the printer as part of a legitimate document. It renders correctly, and at the end of the job there’s a firmware update.”

Moral of the story: print more at work?

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 3 Comments

Putting an iPhone to the ‘Fullest Possible Use’

This image of the new Siri intelligent agent at work is the first thing I’ve ever seen that makes me think an iPhone might be a good thing to have.

Meanwhile, however, the Android remains a more open platform, which certainly has its virtues (and the occasional vice too).

Source: Brad DeLong (who got it from a Telstra user in Australia?).

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Florida Wins Again

If you are a technogeek you will enjoy this post on The 10 Most Bizarre and Annoying Causes of Fiber Cuts, much expanded by some great comments.

But of course the top incident involves Florida:

There was a landowner whose property stretched across the border between Georgia and Florida. He was mad at Florida DOT because he didn’t get enough money when they purchased the right-of-way to widen the highway that cut through his property. Level 3 had fiber in the right-of-way, so he was mad at us too. One day he decided on revenge, so he jumped onto his backhoe and drove across the state line from Georgia to Florida, right up to the edge of the ROW and dug a 2 foot wide by 10 foot long trench. He then got down in the hole and cut the fiber and the ducts. Then he moved 15 feet south and dug a second trench until he found more fiber and ducts and cut them in a second location.When our field techs got on the scene, Mr. Landowner was waiting on them with his 12 gauge shotgun! He refused to let anyone repair the fiber on threat of death! When law enforcement arrived, Mr. Landowner had moved back over to the Georgia side and claimed he had no idea how the damage had been done. He was out of their jurisdiction. There were no witnesses, and all the law enforcement could do was talk to him and try to get him to confess. At least we were able to repair the damage. But during the conversation with the law, Mr. Landowner spewed anger and said he was going to come back tomorrow and cut the fiber again. Well, that was admission of intent to commit a crime and the rules of jurisdiction didn’t apply anymore. Ha! He was arrested and we were able to see frontline justice after all

Posted in Florida, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Annotating PDFs — the Missing Function?

The NYT has an article on a subject I’ve been forced to care about, since my office is now effectively more-or-less paperless (it is actually almost fileless, but for most purposes why have paper if you can’t keep it?): How to live without a printer.

The key recommendation in Getting By Without a Computer Printer is pretty obvious:

You can limit contact with your printer by becoming more familiar with PDFs

But the problem with .pdf’s is that I don’t know how to annotate them. I know how to take notes in the margin of a paper document. How do I replicate this virtually, easily, and visibly on a .pdf?

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 8 Comments

Google’s New Chromebook Explained (Not)

NYT Gadgetwise blog struggles to explain the new Google ‘Chromebook’ (which seems to be a dumb client cloud-oriented laptop) via Q&A.

So, with these netbooks and laptops that cost the same or less, and weigh the same or less, and come with screens bigger and smaller than Chromebooks, I could still do all those cloud-based things you were talking about, but I could also have a full-fledged computer as well?
Yes.

So I would want a Chromebook because…?
Good question.

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 1 Comment