Thursday, April 27, 2017

AAMI TIR57 for Safety and Security of Medical Devices

Ken Hoyme pointed me to AAMI TIR57, found here, which describes a common safety and security approach for medical devices.  He also points me to this presentation.

Common Weaknesses Enumeration

The Common Weaknesses Enumeration, found here, is a list of common software security weaknesses as developed by the community.

Amazon Edge View

The Amazon Echo device now comes as a variant with a camera. Thanks to the program Stand Up with Pete Dominic for the tip.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Article on Spying by Consumer Electronics Devices

Extremetech reports here on a lawsuit which claims that Bose requires users of its wireless products to use software that spiess on the listening habits of its users.

Monday, April 10, 2017

High Cost of Aircraft System Certification

Aviation Week reports here on the high cost of international certification of aircraft systems---some companies report that certification is now more expensive than design.

Emergency Warning System Hack

The New York Times reports here on a hack of the Dallas emergency warning system.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Headphones Catch Fire During Flight

NBC News reports here on an incident in which a pair of headphones caught on fire while a woman was wearing them during a flight.

Article on Aircraft Display Systems

Aviationweek posts here a very interesting article on an incident involving, among other factors, the synthetic vision system of an aircraft.  This is a long article that clearly describes a complex situation. It bears careful reading.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WikiLeaks Release on Hacking

NBC News reports here on a release by WikiLeaks, which claims that the released document describe CIA hacking techniques.   According to the NBC News report, these techniques include a variety of techniques for hacking IoT and consumer electronics devices.

A Global Industry

I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong where I met with several friends and colleagues.  A great many computer systems designers and researchers in Hong Kong trained in the United States; many also lived and worked in the U. S. after their education.  My friends continue to express and exhibit their appreciation and fondness for the United States. Many confess to have been changed by their experience living here.  America continues to be a beacon of hope for the world.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

IoT Shoes That Order Pizza

AV Club reports here on special Pizza Hut shoes with a pizza ordering button.  The report does not the wireless protocol used or the power consumption of the device.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Hypothetical Analog vs. Digital Scenario

I have concocted a hypothetical situation in which analog beats out digital.  And it doesn't even require a zombie apocalypse.<p>
DPReview reports here on Nikon's significant financial problems.  They reported earlier that Sony's image sensor sales for smartphones are up but their camera sales are down.  So let's imagine a world in which the only cameras manufactured are smartphones---no large-sensor cameras.  We have a long way to go before we get to that point, but there is some small chance of that eventuality occurring.<p>
Smartphone cameras are quite good these days.  They now use high-quality sensors and optics coupled with sophisticated cameras running on the smartphone's high-performance embedded platform.  But small sensors have their limitations and for some applications, bigger is better.  We can expect some demand for large sensor cameras for the forseeable future.<p>
But how do you maintain these cameras?  Even ignoring firmware and driver updates, the hardware will fail eventually.  Both the image sensors and image processors are specific to the camera.  Once those chips go out of production, we are reduced to relying on a store of old chips stored in liquid nitrogen for replacement.<p>
Analog cameras, meanwhile are much easier to maintain.  Shutters are probably the hardest item to rebuild, but even those can be manufactured in a modest machine shop so long as the machinist understands how shutters work.  Otherwise, a camera is a box with a hole on one end. <p>
And although I can't make my own image sensor (even though I have access to a semiconductor fab line, it would be a very difficult and expensive process), I could make my own glass plates.  If Matthew Brady can make glass plates in a tent on a Civil War battlefield, I think that I can manage to make some for myself.
Digital systems have a lot of advantages.  Long-term maintenance is not one of them.  Specialized parts eventually fail.  The manufacturing systems used to build them also go out of service.  When we use computers to build long-lived systems, we need to think carefully about the future.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Early Circuit Degradation in Atom

A post from Anandtech here describes what seems to be an early circuit degradation problem in Atom C2000.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Article on TVs that Spy on Viewing Habits

Extremetech reports here on the extensive spying on viewing habits and system configuration characteristics performed by Vizio TVs.

Friday, February 3, 2017

What Are You Buying?

A widely held principle in the law is that software is intangible; when you pay for software, you are purchasing a license to use that software. The law generally holds that software is fundamentally different from tangible goods.  Of course, we have discussed in an earlier blog post about the physical representation of software.  My book The Physics of Computing uses the computation of the mass of a bit as an example (Q = CV; m_bit = m_qQ).
But the line of reasoning of the legal profession has a more fundamental flaw.  When I buy a car, no one bothers to consider whether I am purchasing a license to make my own copies of the car.  Everyone agrees that I am buying a physical object, no questions asked.  In the 20th century, when building a car was a hard, long job, this scenario was a no-brainer.  But 3-D printing changes the equation.  We can assume that someone will, sooner or later, scan an entire car and 3D print a copy.  So where is that fundamental distinction between cars and software?

Friday, January 27, 2017

50th Anniversary of Apollo 1 Disaster

Fifty years ago today, January 27, 1967, a fire on the launchpad during a test killed the entire crew of Apollo 1: Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee.  Their sacrifice has not been forgotten.  You can find NASA's report on their Day of Remembrance here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Article on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Battery Fires

Anandtech reports here on Samsung's report on the casues of Galaxy Note 7 fires.  They found different manufacturing problems in the batteries from two different manufacturers. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reports on Galaxy Note 7 Battery Fires

Reuters reports here that a Samsung report will include that the main cause of Galaxy Note 7 fires was the battery, not computer hardware or software.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

US Department of Commerce Report on IoT Security

Reader K. V. Arjun passed along this news article on a report by the U. S. Department of Commerce that recommends the development of standards for IoT security.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Movie on The Lousy State of IoT Security

My friend Dimitrios Serpanos introduced me to this new movie starring Pierce Brosnan of 007 fame on the subject of IoT and smart home security.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yet More Stupid Ideas in Consumer Electronics

Extremetech reports here on the new Bluetooth-enabled toaster announced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show.  The article is extremely funny but the product is all too real.