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Community => Bar Sport => Topic started by: nickgammon on Feb 15, 2015, 10:42 pm

Title: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: nickgammon on Feb 15, 2015, 10:42 pm
Interesting read:

The coming war on general-purpose computing - by Cory Doctorow (http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html)

Those of us who are working on microcontrollers might think upon the part about some organizations wanting computers to only run "trusted code".

It is hard to see how that could be applied to an Atmega328 where there is no operating system or BIOS that could check whether or not the code which is installed is trusted.

Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: John_Smith on Feb 16, 2015, 03:41 am
Thats a very interesting article Nick, and some of it does get scary, like

" But powerful software-defined radios (SDRs) can change from baby monitor to emergency services dispatcher or air traffic controller, just by loading and executing different software."

In a similar vein, urgent legislation on the use of " toy " drones around airports ( and for Peeping Toms ) obviously had to be rushed in as the drone phenomena mushroomed.
This legislation could also be called clamping down on an individuals freedom to " fly MY drone where I damn well like "

For a celphone , I am lucky that I need nothing more than a cheapy brick, ( with a smart LED light on top ) to get by.
Running my business from home on a PC, I do not need mobile mail, or GPS or any apps
I know my celphone is not taking pictures of me in the bathroom,  it doesn't have a camera :-)

Similarly , the Atmega 328 suits me perfectly for what I use them for , I must confess that my transition from V23 to v1.**  is taking some time, as I have my own various routines that I cut and paste into the current projects.

So the thought of Atmel dropping the 328, and us all moving onto something with its own OS and BIOS makes me really nervous
Perhaps I should stock up on the chips :-)
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: weedpharma on Feb 16, 2015, 03:47 am
An interesting read.

Weedpharma a
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: nickgammon on Feb 16, 2015, 05:14 am
Quote
" But powerful software-defined radios (SDRs) can change from baby monitor to emergency services dispatcher or air traffic controller, just by loading and executing different software."
I just got a SDR from eBay but I think it's just a receiver.
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: John_Smith on Feb 16, 2015, 09:09 am
I think they must be referring to some of the RF*** modules that can be set to any frequency in a wide band, with AT commands,  but of course you are still going to need the RF tuned circuits, so I dont think there would be a little box with switches marked "baby monitor" " emergency services dispatcher"  or "air traffic controller "  on the market soon   :-)
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: Marmotjr on Feb 16, 2015, 06:57 pm
Being an ex medic, I can attest that "baby monitor" and "EMS Dispatcher" would be the same option. 
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: keeper63 on Feb 16, 2015, 10:49 pm
I think they must be referring to some of the RF*** modules that can be set to any frequency in a wide band, with AT commands,  but of course you are still going to need the RF tuned circuits, so I dont think there would be a little box with switches marked "baby monitor" " emergency services dispatcher"  or "air traffic controller "  on the market soon   :-)
They probably mean stuff like this:

http://gnuradio.org/redmine/projects/gnuradio/wiki

...which I imagine can be used both with transmitting and receiving hardware; though for the transmitting side, you would likely need a HAM license at a minimum to use legally - not that that ever stopped anyone (though the cost likely would).
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: John_Smith on Feb 17, 2015, 07:20 am
Quote
They probably mean stuff like this:

http://gnuradio.org/redmine/projects/gnuradio/wiki
Ham radio has changed a lot since I let my ham license ( G3STX ) lapse in 1975 when I emigrated from the UK.

I have wonderful memories of cutting holes in aluminium chassis for valve ( tube ) sockets, winding coils, and experimenting with new ideas.

Looking at that GNUradio makes me think you might as well use your celphone to chat to people a lot clearer and more distant than we used to  :-)

Uh Uh I sound like a "whenwe"   :-(

Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: Henry_Best on Feb 18, 2015, 05:54 am
Uh Uh I sound like a "whenwe"   :-(
"Tell that to the kids today and they won't believe you!"
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: Chagrin on Feb 18, 2015, 06:30 am
CSB:

Was just helping my brother today whose trade is auto mechanics. He was trying to perform a flash upgrade for a truck computer, but those upgrade processes have apparently gotten so locked down now on newer vehicles that the entire upgrade process is online; no more downloading any image files, etc - you just use a computer as the intermediary between the manufacturer's web site and the truck's computer (which has wifi capability). Long story short, if there's any interruption during the flash upgrade the truck's computer is bricked. $3000 for replacement; the manufacturer has no other method to reflash.

As a computer guy that dabbles in electronics I can barely imagine what kind of decisions led to an upgrade process using this type of architecture. Assuredly there's some kind of encryption on the images being flashed onto the truck's computer ... but at a cost like this? It's absolutely nuts.
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: nickgammon on Feb 18, 2015, 07:41 am
DRM.

I can just see it now:

Quote
We can't service your truck today because the Internet is down.
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: GoForSmoke on Feb 18, 2015, 04:15 pm
Gee. Big corporations moving to pwn a market and force everyone to buy from them.
It was just a matter of when.
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: Pauly on Feb 18, 2015, 05:18 pm
DRM is also happening to farm equipment like tractors.
Guy wants to fix his $100,000.00 tractor but doesn't own the software on a tractor he bought?  Has to wait two days for an expensive tech to come fix it.  No DIY allowed.

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/new-high-tech-farm-equipment-nightmare-farmers/ (http://www.wired.com/2015/02/new-high-tech-farm-equipment-nightmare-farmers/)
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: John_Smith on Feb 18, 2015, 08:09 pm
Some friends went up the coast on a fishing trip a few years ago, both vehicles broke down, the Landrover was fixed in the nearest garage in an hour,  the Mitsubishi had to be trucked back 1000km to Cape Town to the dealer.   End of his fishing trip.
I am happy with our 20 year old Honda that an old fart like me can keep running :-)
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: nickgammon on Feb 18, 2015, 09:06 pm
One of our cars wouldn't start because of a fault in the anti-theft system. We lost the use of it for a week because a new board had to be shipped from overseas.
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: John_Smith on Feb 18, 2015, 10:43 pm
I ripped the anti theft unit out of our car , who is going to nick a 95 civic with rounded corners ? ( my beloved missus can't see the corners of the car when navigating past concrete blocks in the mall carparks, but nobody parks near us when they see the wings. )
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: nickgammon on Feb 18, 2015, 11:17 pm
Hmm, so you stole removed the anti-theft device? Interesting that you can do that.
Title: Re: Lockdown - The coming war on general-purpose computing
Post by: GoForSmoke on Feb 18, 2015, 11:47 pm
Those of us who are working on microcontrollers might think upon the part about some organizations wanting computers to only run "trusted code".
They should do that with their computers.
Who decides what is "trusted" and how much do they think they should be paid to enforce their will?

What will they do, outlaw compilers? When programming is outlawed, outlaws will write code!