The insanity of GM – the invisible hand of capitalism should destroy this company

GM’s hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history
[Via PandoDaily]


As the sun was setting on a stormy Georgia day, Brooke Melton was 30 miles outside of Atlanta in her Chevy Cobalt. It was March 10, 2010, her birthday, and the 29-year-old pediatric nurse was on her way to her boyfriend’s to celebrate.

Melton had purchased the white GM Cobalt in 2005, the year the four-cylinder compact first rolled out of factories, and lately it had been giving her trouble. A week earlier the engine had unexpectedly shut off. Melton managed to pull over to the side of the road and restart it, but the incident shook her. She phoned her father, who advised her to bring the car in to the local dealership. So she wouldn’t forget, Melton scribbled a list of the problems in a notebook: “Key locking in the ignition,” she wrote. “Suddenly shutting off while driving and unable to turn vehicle.” Under “strange knocking sound” she underlined “ignition problems.” Mechanics at the dealership assured her nothing was wrong, and after cleaning the fuel injection gave Melton back her car a few days later with a clean bill of health.

As dusk bled into darkness early the next evening, she was driving north over a stick-straight section of Highway 9 at 58 mph when it happened again. The Cobalt’s engine shut off and the lights inside and outside the car dimmed. Melton hit the brakes, but no power from the engine meant no anti-lock brakes and no power steering. The car fell into a skid. Tires squealing, the Cobalt’s back end fishtailed, coming up on her left. Melton instinctively spun the wheel counterclockwise.

Three and a half seconds after the engine quit, Melton was the reluctant driver’s seat passenger of a car hydroplaning sideways across the centerline. In the southbound late, bearing down at highway speed, was a gray Ford Focus driven by a 26-year-old man from nearby Acworth, GA, his two-year-old daughter strapped in the back.

The Focus plowed into the passenger side of Melton’s Cobalt: 3,000 pounds of steel, glass, plastic, and human smashing into three 3,000 pounds of steel, glass, plastic, and human. While Brooke’s lap belt glued her waist to the seat, her shoulder harness went slack the instant the engine shut off. As the side of her car caved in, Melton’s torso, neck, and head whipped violently to the right, the force equivalent to falling from the 16th floor of a building. The Cobalt spun around and was heaved 15 feet down a hill, ending up backward in a creek swollen with rainwater. Rescuers found Melton slumped over the steering wheel, her body submerged up to her shoulders.

Brooke Melton was not the first to crash her GM car after the engine stalled. Over the course of a decade, dozens of people died and scores more were injured on American roads. Four months earlier, Hasaya Chansuthus was heading home to Nashville in her 2006 Cobalt when she sideswiped another car, her engine shut off and the Cobalt raced off the highway. She was killed when her head struck the steering wheel. In 2009, an 11-month old baby was paralyzed and his grandmother and aunt were killed in Pennsylvania after the Cobalt’s engine turned off without warning and was hit by another car. Earlier that year, 81-year-old Marie Sachse lost control of her 2004 Saturn Ion outside of St. Louis and died eight hours later from internal injuries. In 2006, 18-year-old Natasha Weigel was a few miles from home in eastern Wisconsin when the engine quit and the Cobalt shot off the highway, killing Weigel and another teenager.


The article is long and it will make you cry (if you are human) And it will make you so mad at the socicopaths allowed to run things, make millions and kill the rest of us.

People at GM switched the switches without telling anyone. No process was in places to prevent them from doing this  and even when notified, management chose cost over safety. Switches that killed people. Replacing them with new ones that had the same part number. 

But apparently  no one at GM knows why. So this was not a mistake but a coverup.

Even when GM did know, they took 5 months before recalling all the cars. And then did not have the parts needed. People continue to die after the recall.

And this was only discovered  because a woman wrote a note before she died. Otherwise, people would still continue to die (perhaps 165 so far), others put in prison or bankrupted.

We have allowed our lives to be put in the hands of people with no morals, no ethics and no humanity. “GM nod?” Put them all in prison.

Make an example of them. I am so glad I have never owned a GM car. I never will. Screw them. So should the marketplace.

Unbreakable Apple encryption – 80 milliseconds may be key

System Lock 

 Why can’t Apple decrypt your iPhone?
[Via A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering]

Last week I wrote about Apple’s new default encryption policy for iOS 8. Since that piece was intended for general audiences I mostly avoided technical detail. But since some folks (and apparently the Washington Post!) are still wondering about the nitty-gritty details of Apple’s design, I thought it might be helpful to sum up what we know and noodle about what we don’t.


Nice explanation of how Apple has secured the iPhone. No backdoors. Apple holds no keys. The phone takes your password, mixes it with a specific number for each phone (UID), and runs it through a slow derivation function to get the passkey used for all on phone encryption. What does the slow derivation function do?

The Apple Key Derivation function ‘tangles’ the password with the UID key by running both through PBKDF2-AES — with an iteration count tuned to require about 80ms on the device itself.** The result is the ‘passcode key’. That key is then used as an anchor to secure much of the data on the phone.

Apple used a dedicated line on the chip to put the key into the secure enclave. Software can put it in when you change a password but cannot extract it out. The only thing that can be done is to brute force the password by trying every single combination.

Now, normally, the authorities can use a class F supercomputer, capable of trying a billion passwords a second. This means that even if your password mixed lower case, upper case and special symbols and was 8 characters in length – 96 possible characters and a whopping 7.2 quadrillion possible combinations – the class F could find it in less than 3 months.

The authorities know that any phone they want to crack can be with a brute force approach. Well, that used to be true.

See that 80 ms requirement. Since the only thing to do is brute force the password, that 80 ms becomes important, as I wrote before. It slows down even the Class F. Instead of a billion tries a second, it can only do 12.5. 

This means that even an 8 digit passcode using only numbers would now take 3 months. Instead of instantly.

Before, they could just ask Apple to crack it for them. Because it held a backdoor key. But now Apple no longer can do that.

It means that pretty much no one can get the data off your phone, especially if you use even a simple password with 6-8 characters.

And Apple lets you use a passcode up to 37 characters long.

The only way to get an iPhone cracked is to get a warrant requiring the owner to open it. No more being able to use a third party to do it for the authorities.

So we are back to what used to be the status quo.

At least another decade until my flying car is here

Progress to the Vertical Takeoff and Landing TF-X flying car
[Via Next Big Future]

Development of TF-X™ is expected to last another 7-11 years.

Terrafugia is pleased to announce the winner of their GrabCAD TF-X™ industrial design challenge. Vedran Martinek’s design was selected as having the best aesthetic improvement while remaining true to the baseline TF-X™ flying car concept. This industrial design concept will now go through a series of technical, aerodynamic, and structural evaluations which will continue to refine the outer mold line (OML) of TF-X™.


I’ll probably be too old to drive one of these when they are available. Bummer.

Getting to the stars without a warp drive or a magic wormhole

Spaceship Earth in the Fog

Laser Ion propelled interstellar generation ship using this century technology
[Via Next Big Future]

Dana Andrews looks at a minimum transit speed of 2 percent of the speed of light (fifty years per light year) for an interstellar generation ship. This makes for transit times in the neighborhood of hundreds of years, depending on destination. A key requirement is the ability to decelerate and rendezvous with the destination planet using a magnetic sail (magsail) that can be built using high-temperature superconductors. Andrews also assumes 20-30 years of research and development before construction actually begins.

He assumes that a space-based infrastructure sufficient to begin active asteroid mining will be in place.
He cites a thirty-five year timeframe for getting these needed systems operational.
Some of the R&D could presumably be underway even as this infrastructure is being built, but we also have to take into account what we know about the destination.

Credit Dana Andrews and H/T Centauri Dreams


An interesting exercise and a nice thought-experiment.Some of the engineering aspects of this are much better configured than the biological ones.

We still have no real clue on creating a closed loop biome that does not collapse, although I am sure we will.

The intriguing thing is using an asteroid to help get the ship up to speed. Using 100TWatt lasers. A speed of 2% of the speed of light – 50 years per light year travel.

But the really amazing idea is decelerating when close to the star. Using a special sail (over 6000 km in diameter) the ship will take over 70 years to slow down.

An entire lifetime.

There are lots of possible variants. And a lot of risks. But it is becoming more feasible.

At least to think about.

Apple wins at Global Thermonuclear War by refusing to play the game the FBI wants it to.

 War Games (1983)

iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars
[Via Schneier on Security]

Last week, Apple announced that it is closing a serious security vulnerability in the iPhone. It used to be that the phone’s encryption only protected a small amount of the data, and Apple had the ability to bypass security on the rest of it.

From now on, all the phone’s data is protected. It can no longer be accessed by criminals, governments, or rogue employees. Access to it can no longer be demanded by totalitarian governments. A user’s iPhone data is now moresecure.

To hear US law enforcement respond, you’d think Apple’s move heralded an unstoppable crime wave. See, the FBI had been using that vulnerability to get into people’s iPhones. In the words of cyberlaw professor Orin Kerr, “How is the public interest served by a policy that only thwarts lawful search warrants?”

Ah, but that’s the thing: You can’tbuild a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through. Encryption protects against cybercriminals, industrial competitors, the Chinese secret police and the FBI. You’re either vulnerable to eavesdropping by any of them, or you’re secure from eavesdropping from all of them.

Backdoor access built for the good guys is routinely used by the bad guys. In 2005, some unknown group surreptitiously used the lawful-intercept capabilities built into the Greek cell phone system. The same thing happened in Italy in 2006.


WarGames was a prescient movie. The scene above could almost be used today, with authorities complaining about iPhone security.

We have fought this battle many times. Personal security always wins and the authorities find other ways to legally do their business.

All this means is that the authorities can no konger go around the user and seek out third parties to threaten, third parties who seem to have no skin in the game,

But, in the post-Snowden age, this approach has signifiant and detrimental effects on the business models of the third parties. Now they do have skin in the game as countries where they sell their goods become suspicious.

So, Apple takes the very smart path – simply remove itself. The only way for it to win is to not play the game.

Now the FBI and others still have lots of access to data – anything on the cloud or in teleco servers.  They just need to get a specific court order to access a smartphone from Apple.

Distributed democracy wins again. For now.

DEA creating fake social media pages – another reason to lockdown your phone



Drug agency sued over its fake Facebook account
[Via AP]

The Drug Enforcement Administration set up a fake Facebook account using photographs and other personal information it took from the cellphone of a New York woman arrested in a cocaine case in hopes of tricking her friends and associates into revealing incriminating drug secrets.

The Justice Department initially defended the practice in court filings but now says it is reviewing whether the Facebook guise went too far.

Sondra Arquiett’s Facebook account looked as real as any other. It included photos of her posing on the hood of a sleek BMW and a close-up with her young son and niece. She even appeared to write that she missed her boyfriend, who was identified by his nickname.


Yep, they simply created a fake Facebook page using photos from a confiscated phone:

In a court filing in August, the Justice Department contended that while Arquiett didn’t directly authorize Sinnigen to create the fake account, she “implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations.”

The photos showed her in sexy, provocative positions as well as including family members  who appear to be underage.So if you ever give the DEA access to your phone, they can use whatever information they find. For anything if they call it an ongoing criminal investigation.

Glad I have an iPhone 6. That way they will have to get a warrant which should spell out exactly what they can and cannot do.

Why upgrade to iOS 8 when I’m getting a new iPhone 6 anyway?

iPhone 6 - najlepsze gry 

Apple iOS 8 adoption around 50%, iPhone 6 adoption sets record
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“Within the first twenty-four hours, iOS 8 update appeared to be slower than its predecessors. A few weeks in, this continues to be the case says analytics firm Fiksu,” Benjamin Mayo reports for 9to5Mac. “After twelve days, both iOS 6 and iOS 7 had comfortably crossed the 50% mark for iOS usage. By contrast, iOS 8 is yet to hit the 40% mark according to Fiksu’s measurements. An independent study from Mixpanel says iOS 8 is closer to 50%, but it is still far behind iOS 7’s rate of uptake.”

“Meanwhile, iPhone 6 adoption is record-setting,” Mayo reports. “The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s followed near-identical growth path, but the iPhone 6 is more than double that rate. As of 17 days since release, the iPhone 6 has touched the 4% level. For comparison, the combined share of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c was about 3% in the same period.”


I think that may be why it is slower in adoption. I did not upgrade to iOS 8 because I knew I was going to be getting an iPhone 6. I love the new phone. Fits in my pocket fine. Love ThumbID.

Activating at home was painless and lawless.

Only problem is how thin it is. It kept slipping out of my hand because I actually have to hold it rather than let friction  keep it in my hand.


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