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2017-11-22 13:48 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 220 references
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I often write on the plethora of US-based frauds and scams, both political and business-oriented.

Fraud is the most-profitable business model today, and has been for close to two decades.  It is why I'm out of the business world and will not re-enter it.  It is why despite having what I believe is a ground-breaking home automation, security and control application that runs on $35 computers (which means there's a hell of an opportunity to bundle the software with those and sell 'em hella-cheap, undercutting all the other guys plus having a nice installation business to go with it) I am only willing to do so on a "buy it all and you do it" basis.

Companies like Amazon exist with the sort of "valuation" they have only because of these schemes and scams.  Cost-shifting (otherwise known as cross-subsidization) for the purpose of destroying competitors is a felony and has been for over 100 years (15 USC Chapter 1) whether you succeed or not.  That is, the very attempt is a criminal act.  Yet despite continual evidence in the form of quarterly filings that document the company does not make money (on an all-cost-in basis) on their product sales along with near-daily professions of the "next" company being "Amazoned" (that is, put out of business or severely harmed by this practice) in the major business media on television and in print, along with open cheering on of such conduct by same not one single indictment has ever issued.

Facebook, it appears from my work, to be deliberately detecting the use of ad blockers and then gaming their software so as to just meet the so-called "deliverable" standard for ads to people who have blocked them.  That is, since I have a blocker on my desktop I would not normally generate any revenue for Facebook from advertisers.  But I have observed, in a 100% repeatable manner, that a "display" ad will remain visible until the minimum pixel count and time is met (1 second, etc) and then disappear and a video ad will do so for 2 seconds with 100% pixels -- and then likewise disappear.  In other words the company is billing the advertisers for content they know damn well I blocked and never see.  What do you call billing someone for something they don't get on purpose, because that's what it looks like to me. Oh, and how many billions have been taken from advertisers this way?  Nobody but Zuckerpig knows but I bet it's not a small number.

And now we get another example of it with Uber.  Uber intentionally concealed, including with a bribe, a security breach that disclosed essentially all of their customer and driver data -- email addresses, phone numbers and for drivers, their Driver License numbers.

Note that Equifax had a similar breach which they also concealed and nobody went to jail for that either.

Next up is Google.  Their Android operating system "pushed" a change early this year that started uploading cell site data on your location even if you have location turned off.  The company got caught, admitted it, and claimed it was to "improve push-notifications."  That's a damnable lie since there are no cell carriers in the US that allow you to target data streams at specific cell towers.  Google also claims it never did and won't keep said data.  Do you believe them after they lied to you about your location tracking being "off" (when you shut it off) and nobody went to jail for the first lie?  Neither do I.

Never mind that Netflix has seen their stock go from $40 to nearly $200 in the time "net neutrality" has been imposed on the US.  May I remind you that the company has operated on a net negative cash flow basis for years and continues to on an ever-escalating basis today?  Why do they get away with it?  Because if you don't buy Netflix' service you are forced to pay part of your next door neighbor's bill, that's why.

That's all of the "FANG" stocks, incidentally.  Every one of them should be out of business and their executives in prison instead of being "Wall Street Darlings."

Every.

Single.

One. 

Tesla?  Same deal.  Every car is sold at a loss yet the company steals billions from the US Federal Government and exists in a world where it has never made a profit only on the premise that it will continue to be able to steal.  Nobody in their right mind would "invest" or "loan" a company money that has never demonstrated it can sell a single product at a profit, ever, nor that it has any ability to do so in the future -- unless it can steal.

Of course we also have Congress which has paid out millions of your money to cover up sexual harassment and even assault by members of Congress.  Passed during the middle of the Clinton years and right after he was diddling Monica with a cigar by unanimous vote it remains on the books today.  Myriad members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have used it to hide harassment and assault allegations against staff members.  I note that there has not been one Congressperson who has introduced a repeal of said legislation nor has the President demanded it be repealed or he will not sign a single bill until it is.  Remember that two Republican Presidents and two Democrat Presidents have each held the White House during and since this was signed, so don't start about how this was a "Republican" or "Democrat" bill, never mind the zero opposing votes from either party when it was originally passed.

Finally, the grand-daddy of it all is the medical scam.  Tell me again about that one, which steals from every household a middle-class house payment every single month.  May I again remind you that the health firms have twice tried to claim their conduct was exempt from anti-trust and lost both times at the US Supreme Court?

Will I be "thankful" today?

No.

I am instead praying for an asteroid strike on every single one of these jackass firms' executives and board members along with every member of Congress and every member of the Executive that has sat idly by while you've been robbed for the last 30+ years.

**** giving thanks -- with a rusty chainsaw -- until this **** stops.

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2017-11-22 09:40 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 245 references
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The screamfest has re-commenced.

I'd write a whole post on this, but I have already.

So here's the piece I submitted to the FCC during the comment period back in 2014, which I have unlocked from its "expired" status.

Go read it.

People like Hastings and Bezos have extracted billions of dollars from consumers who do not want their services by getting the government to shove a gun up their noses, picking their pocket.  While you may say "but I want and buy Netflix" the fact is that there are many such firms, there are and will be more every day, and the odds of you buying all of them are zero.

You may be perfectly happy with forcing your neighbor to subsidize your Netflix subscription. Do you feel the same way when your neighbor forces you to subsidize his baseball, football or Hulu subscription?  What happens when the "next new thing" is some 4k-def virtual reality application you think is stupid but the kid next door loves and your internet service goes up in price by 20% so the ISP can build out the capacity necessary for him to have it?

The facts are that Netflix is a cash furnace; it has, for several years, run negative cash flow and will continue to into the foreseeable future.  Wall Street allows this and Hastings has made billions doing so because the company steals a decent part of its operating expense from people who don't buy the service under government mandate.  Amazon's "Prime Video" doesn't break out its financial picture but it's odds on that it operates exactly the same way and Bezos has thus also made billions by likewise stealing from non-users, and so will Disney's upcoming "over the top" offering.

The problem with endorsing theft when it benefits you is that once you've done that it will very-reliably be used against you.

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2017-11-22 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 201 references
[Comments enabled]  

The stupid, it burns!

A UC Berkeley computer science professor helped to create a video that imagined a world where nuclear weapons were replaced by swarms of autonomous tiny drones that could kill half a city and are virtually unstoppable.

Stuart Russell, the professor, said these drones are already a reality.

Meh.

This so-called "professor" needs to be taken out into San Francisco Bay where there are sharks and tossed overboard for this horse**** stunt.

Let me explain.

Yes, it is trivial, even today, to create a small drone that can "pierce" someone's skull.  You can quite-trivially recognize a "head" and aim at it, along with striking it.  You don't even need a lot of forward speed since the attack can come from above, using gravity, and with a small enough "snout" the amount of kinetic energy required is pretty small too.

That's not the problem.

The problem is energy management and density.

Today's "hobby" (and small commercial) drones are energy density limited.  The unit has to lift its power source, which is a battery.  Batteries are terrible in this regard because they carry their reactants, including the oxidizer, in the case.

This means the common drone is limited to a few minutes of fly time before its battery is exhausted.

So to use such a "swarm" you'd have to release the drones close to where they will hit, and they will get one target per, provided they can find and execute on one before their power runs out.  The smaller the drone the less power it carries because it's ability to lift said cell is smaller.  If it's designed like a plane rather than a hovercraft it can go further but it's still severely limited on runtime.

If you start putting explosives inside it then you have the same problem in that you have to lift that too.  This, by the way, is why small hobby-style drones don't bother the various authorities all that much when it comes to terrorists using them for bombs -- they simply can't carry enough explosive to be all that interesting.

That doesn't mean it won't suck to be you if you're targeted by something like this.  It will.  But the idea of a "killer, cheap swarm" that spreads out over a city and murders people by the score is science fiction horse**** because only in that universe does the power supply exist to allow the dwell time and travel range to actually make it practical.

Now in a "battlefield" type environment, if you can get close enough, it's another matter.  There a bunch of tiny drones that can only lift a fraction of a pound each might be very effective across small areas.  Release a bunch (e.g. from high altitude overhead from a "drop plane"), they target anything bipedal, ram what appears to be the "head" and explode.  Even very small charges would have devastating impact, could be contact-fused (easy and as cheap to make as a rifle primer) and would be extremely hard to defend against (over than by being behind hard cover on all sides!)

But in a city or other urban type environment against civilians, and the outrageously idiotic claim that $25 million can buy an "army" of these things today that can kill half a city?

Meh.

I can come up with a half-dozen cheap countermeasures against such a swarm.  Perfect, no, they wouldn't be but you don't have to be -- you just have to make using them uneconomic.

I ain't skeered; bring it on.

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2017-11-20 16:27 by Karl Denninger
in Small Business , 74 references
[Comments enabled]  

For a bit of background see this article, or check out the page at http://homedaemon.net

The software now has had added to it a quite-complete Amcrest IP camera interface.  It is capable of triggering events on any of:

  • Motion
  • Audio (either "any" or "above threshold")
  • SD card removed (if you have one in the unit)
  • Dry contact (these cameras have a user-selectable normally closed or open input on the back; quite useful for things like a door or window switch, for example.
  • Attempted hacking (e.g. repeated authentication failures)

These capabilities should be functional against any "modern" Amcrest IP camera with reasonably-recent firmware.

In addition at any time (not just on the triggering of these events, but any event HomeDaemon recognizes) each camera can be instructed to take a snapshot with optional motion to a pre-set point occurring first.  The snapshot can be taken as a "regular" (subject to roll-off) or "protected" (in a folder not subject to roll-off) image.  The software has configurable limits for the maximum number of snapshots to keep and the minimum file space that must be available on whatever device is used for same, and it will manage space as required to remain within those limits.

The snapshot and "grab" functions are all implemented over "https" (and require it) since the provision of a username and password to the camera is required and while the cameras supports "digest" authentication (better than "Basic", which Amcrest recently removed -- thank God!) MD5 digests are not particularly secure.  It is strongly recommended that the storage volume for retrieved snapshots not be on the system boot device (e.g. a plugged-in USB stick is appropriate) to prevent the possibility of trouble with that device causing problems for the running system.  Once stored having a timed job or listener transfer images as you wish to an offsite location is a matter of trivial implementation since there is a full FreeBSD operating system running under the HomeDaemon-MCP code and the files stored are standard .JPGs with names based on the camera name, date and time.

Finally, all of this, like the rest of HomeDaemon MCP's operational capabilities, takes place under a high-performance multi-threaded implementation so as to be able to transact against multiple cameras at once.

Since the system includes certificate-based authentication already building in rights management (either on a subscription or purchase basis) would be quite easy to suit whatever business model you may have in mind.

Come check out the description and more info -- this code is for sale, all-rights and in source (written entirely in "C"), should you be looking to either establish to expand a home control firm with a security-related focus.  Click on the contact links on the right sidebar to get ahold of me -- and thanks!

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2017-11-20 14:39 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 342 references
[Comments enabled]  

Sweet Baby Jesus, how does this **** pass in our nation today?

"Women who are abused end up having long-term physical and physiological problems," Biden said on Monday at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit. "I’m working with Lady Gaga now... we want to set up trauma centers where women can go to get the long-term help they need to deal with these crises. We finally are recognizing the long-term impacts on the health of women and men who’ve been abused. It’s the next great frontier I want to be part of."

Biden has widely been reported as one of the worst offenders among Senators (and former VP candidates) when it comes to sexual harassment and abusive behavior toward women.

The only possible reason I can come up with for him to do this is to groom himself more victims now that he's out of the political realm and off the public stage where women were readily-available for him to grope.

If someone "ordinary" tried to pull this crap they'd be run out of town on a rail -- if they weren't arrested and charged outright.

Want to preach about abusive behavior by men in power toward women?

Start by locking that mother****er up and barring him from having anything to do with abused women.  Ever.

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