the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Pwned Barbies Spying On Children? Toytalk CEO Downplays Hacking Reports

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
McGruber writes: Earlier this year Mattel unveiled "Hello Barbie," a $74.99 wi-fi equipped interactive doll. Users press a button on Barbie's belt to start a conversation and the recorded audio is processed over the internet so that the doll can respond appropriately. The doll also remembers the user's likes and dislikes.

Now Security Researcher Matt Jakubowski claims that he has managed to hack the Hello Barbie system to extract wi-fi network names, account IDs and MP3 files, which could be used to track down someone's home. "You can take that information and find out a person's house or business. It's just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want," Jakubowski warned. Mattel partnered with ToyTalk to develop "Hello Barbie." ToyTalk CEO Oren Jacob said: "An enthusiastic researcher has reported finding some device data and called that a hack. While the path that the researcher used to find that data is not obvious and not user-friendly, it is important to note that all that information was already directly available to Hello Barbie customers through the Hello Barbie Companion App. No user data, no Barbie content, and no major security or privacy protections have been compromised to our knowledge." A petition by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood asking Mattel to drop the doll has already been signed by over 6,000 people.

NOTE: The original reporting of this hack appears to have been this NBC-Chicago newscast.

"finding some device data and called that a hack."

By Nutria • Score: 3 • Thread

Well... the CEO is either right, or he's baited every hacker this side of Timbuktu into hacking those Barbie servers.

Good thing my daughter has outgrown Barbie!!!

Re:Just don't IoT

By mlts • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread


1: Ransomware is on the rise, with new vectors.
2: There is zero incentive (financial or otherwise) for IoT vendors to do anything but lip service to security. As a PHB told me a few years ago, "show me where purchasing a padlock, a card access reader, or a secure appliance has ever shown a financial gain for any company other than to Assa-Abloy or a lock maker." Of course, this is fallacious reasoning, but it is pretty common.
3: Testing is abbreviated at best. The goal is to get the IoT devices to market fast... worry about glitches, bugs, and security items later, or maybe fix them in the 2.0 version.
4: There are no IoT security standards, or architectures [1].
5: There is no assurance about security, other than maybe a pretty lock icon, or "protected by 256 bit AES"... generic drivel. When I buy a padlock, I can buy one with "Sold Secure", "Insurance lock rated", or other ratings that the lock passed some heavy testing. When I have an electrical appliance, it is UL listed. There is no body that can show security compliance for an IoT device. So, I have nothing but the word of an advertiser.

All and all, IoT devices are a win/win for tracking companies and blackhats... but for the people shelling out cash for the devices? Not much. I don't have any BlueTooth light bulbs, nor deadbolts accessible from the Internet. And I plan to keep it that way. In fact, if I were to pay for an expensive fridge, it would be a fridge that used propane or natural gas, so a power outage would only turn off the light inside, not affect cooling.

[1]: An example of a reasonably secure architecture would be devices that communicated via BlueTooth or Wi-Fi to a hardened hub appliance, which then communicated to the Internet. This way, there would be no direct access from the outside to IoT devices, and the hub appliance could be configured with IDS/IPS rules to block out a compromised appliance.

Swarm Robotics Breakthrough Brings Pheromone Communication To AI

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Computer scientists at the University of Lincoln have invented a reliable, low-cost system which replicates in robots the pheromone-based communication behind insect swarms. Using off-the-shelf equipment including an LCD screen and a USB camera, the team has proposed what they call COS-phi, or Communication System via Pheromone. The artificial pheromone trails are traced visually onto the screen. As soon as a bot picks up on the path, it is forced to follow the leader.

Forced to follow...

By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

"Forced to follow..."

So it's like the behavior of Millennials when a new iPhone comes out?

Creator of Relay On BITNET, Predecessor of IRC, Dies

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
tmjva writes: Jeff Kell passed away on November 25 as reported here in the 3000newswire. He was inventor of BITNET Relay, a predecessor of Internet Relay Chat using the REXX programming language.

In 1987 he wrote the following preserved article about RELAY and here is his obituary.. May this early inventor rest in peace.

No Relay to Great Beyond

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Goodbye and thank you Jeff, wherever you are.

Incorrect headline

By kevmeister • Score: 3 • Thread

As is all too common these days, both the summary and article are right, but the headline is wrong. Jeff Kell did not invent BITNET (Because It's Time NETwork or Because It's There NETwork). BITNET was developed in the early '80s by Ira Fuchs of CUNY and Greydon Freeman, Inc. of Yale. It was an early store and forward network based on IBM protocols.

Both the summary and article correctly credit Jeff with the invention of BITNET RELAY which was a predecessor of IRC. It was important, but was just a component of BITNET.

NASA Prepares To Launch an Orion and 3 Cubesats To Deep Space: 3 Years To Go

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
MarkWhittington writes: As NASA has noted, the space agency and its contractors are working diligently on the first launch of the heavy-lift Space Launch System. The launch, officially called EM-1, or Exploration Mission 1, will loft an unpiloted version of the Orion spacecraft around the moon. also noted that a number of secondary payloads, known as CubeSats, will be along for the ride as well. NASA considered EM-1, scheduled for 2018, a crucial step in its Journey to Mars which will, it is hoped, reach its ultimate destination sometime in the 2030s.

I thought the secondary payload

By tlambert • Score: 3 • Thread

I thought the secondary payload was called "astronauts".

Re:I thought the secondary payload

By Irate Engineer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
We can't even send a monkey anymore, because that would offend PETA. This country lost its collective balls in the 1960s. We can't cope with any risk or danger anymore. This is why we'll never walk on the moon again. This is also why the terrorists are running our lives these days.

Bill Gates To Headline Paris Climate Talks

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
theodp writes: The NY Times and others report that Bill Gates will announce the creation of a multibillion-dollar clean energy fund on Monday at the opening of the two-week long Paris Climate Change Conference. The climate summit, which will be attended by President Obama and 100+ world leaders, is intended to forge a global accord to cut planet-warming emissions. The pending announcement was first reported by ClimateWire. A spokesman for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did not respond to a request for comment. Let's hope it goes better than BillG school reform!


By Hognoxious • Score: 3 • Thread

I would have got a frosty, but my Win 98 machine threw a goddam BSOD again!

Oh Boy

By PvtVoid • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

This story will generate rational discussion on Slashdot.

Multimillion dollar fund?

By ravenspear • Score: 3 • Thread

I heard that $640 was enough for anyone.


By smitty_one_each • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Yours is a rational argument. The drones pushing all of this (a) are not rational, and (b) will not be dissuaded in their termite-like quest to subjugate the global economy. (c) Because #Fairness.

What USB Has Replaced (And What it Hasn't)

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes with a story at Ars Technica about the evolution thus far of USB as an enabling technology: Like all technology, USB has evolved over time. Despite being a 'Universal' Serial Bus, in its 18-or-so years on the market it has spawned multiple versions with different connection speeds and many, many types of cables. A casual search around the shelves by my desk shows that I've got at least 12 varieties, and that's not even counting serial and PS/2 adapters. What have you replaced with USB?

Re:Not replaced: serial and parallel ports.

By _merlin • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Serial ports are definitely still alive and well as a connection of last resort. All my network switches, rack mount servers etc. have a serial console port to help when you can't use the usual network administration interface. Professional desktops also tend to have serial ports allowing you to do initial setup of one of these devices without the need for a USB to serial adaptor.

Centronics-style parallel printer ports, on the other hand, really do seem to have disappeared. You'd be hard pressed to find a computer that includes one any more. They were always a bit troublesome, without good two-way speed negotiation, and with generally unreliable daisy-chaining of peripherals. Requiring thick cables and using unbalanced signals also contributed to poor reliability at higher speeds. It was nice for hobby projects to be able to get logic levels straight out of the connector, but they weren't the best interface for anything else.

I haven't replaced serial ports...

By Mirar • Score: 3 • Thread

...I know I haven't managed to replace serial ports. I haven't found any stable RS232 converter on USB...

Either drivers don't work, or everything I get is badly made (fake?).

Kind of weird that *serial* ports don't work well on an *universal serial bus*. But ah well.

Re: Pretty much everything

By mark-t • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
I have this terrible feeling that I'm probably going to regret asking this, but why do you need to press 10 keys at once?

USB created a whole category of products.

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3 • Thread
No one ever figured out the right way to power a little fan attached to the chop sticks to cool your noodles as you pull them from the bowl, till USB came along. And there were some twenty more such crazy things powered by USB.

USB is a support nightmare

By fyngyrz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Unlike ethernet, which is pretty much standard from platform to platform and basically trivial to support, USB code is completely different between linux, OS X, and Windows, and is a mess, API-wise.

I write software defined radio stuff, and after one incredible nightmare getting a USB SDR to work on all three platforms using conditional compilation (I did succeed), I swore off. No more. If it doesn't have an ethernet interface, or a USB-to-ethernet server app compatible with the standard SDR protocols that makes it appear to me as an ethernet SDR, it's not happening.

Luckily, some of the best SDR manufacturers out there have done it right. Andrus, AFDRI, and RFSPACE. And there are some servers that have been built to hide the abortion of USB, but so far they are very much platform-specific, for the very reason I described above.

USB. Ugh.

How Bad of a World Are We Really Living In Right Now?

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter Y.A.A.P. writes: Slate has a surprisingly relevant article of the state of the world today. A reasonable number of graphs and statistical comparisons show that our world is more peaceful than it has been for a long time. The article tells us that, despite what most news outlets (and political candidates) tell us, The World Is Not Falling Apart. Well, not from violence, at least.

Percentages vs raw numbers

By gurps_npc • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
While percentages are down, it's not always the case for raw numbers. Some of them are. Not just for violence, but also for diseases, poverty, etc.

Clearly we are getting better at stuff, but for certain things, raw numbers are more important than percentages.

Suppose there was a just a single serial killer out there that killed one person every year for the past 25 years. Population doubles every 23 years or so. So it looks like he has cut his death rate in half, when it has actually stayed the same.

Ignore the politicians that talk about how bad things are. That is a straight out lie. But are things really getting better or are we simply adding more people that don't have the same problems that the oldsters had? That's a different story.

Personally, I think we are actually doing better. But it's not as cut and dried as the story seems to think it is.

Re:It depends where you live in the world

By StevenMaurer • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Well, right now "this world is more peaceful" it depends where you live: Go to south america like Venezuela, Brasil, Colombia, Salvador, Mexico see the world there or go to Middle East, specially Siria and around there and see there. Go to africa and visit some countries there and see too. It isn't a "World Peaceful" there too.

This is true when compared to the first world, but untrue compared to the way things were even a couple hundred years ago. Dozens of people killed in rioting is not the same thing as one tribe systematically conquering another tribe, killing all the men, adult women, and boys, and taking the girls as sex slaves -- the sort of practice you can read all about (and apparently God approves of, according to ancient Israelite priests) in the Bible (Torah).

Re:It just seems bad because of the news cycle.

By AthanasiusKircher • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I don't blame the news cycle. Do we really needs news headlines like: "People all over the world go about regular business, all goes fine"?

No, we don't need articles like that, which would be pointless.

What we do need (and what I think TFA is arguing for) is perspective. Whether you're talking about overall violent crime rate, child abductions, campus rape, whatever -- the general trend over the past couple decades has been DOWN.

Yes, there are still terrible things happening. And we should work to try to make things better. But there's a difference between focusing on the bad things to make the world better and just being an irrational pessimist with no perspective of history.

I say this as someone who used to be an irrational pessimist. I was the sort of person back in my early 20s who thought, "I can't imagine ever having children -- I mean, who would bring a child into a world that's so terrible?"

I look back at that perspective and realize that my viewpoint was shaped by the news. It was shaped by the continuous clamor of politicians trying to make things sound worse and worse because it was to their advantage in making a case that they were the answer to improvement.

There's more and easier access to information now, and more important stuff is being reported, and that's a good thing. Keep the bad news coming.

Agreed. But maybe -- just maybe -- it might be good to have the news in perspective once in a while. Not "People go about their daily business, and all's fine," but at least an acknowledgement of "Terrible thing X is happening. We still need to improve a lot, but let's just note things have been moving in the right direction on issue X for the past 30 years" or whatever.

Is the news cycle the only explanation?

By swb • Score: 3 • Thread

Or are there other interpretations that explain why it *seems* bad?

Enduring and worsening (I don't know about the worsening part) income inequality, with automation and globalization likely to make income inequality even worse, and automation predicated by many to lead to widespread under/unemployment?

The environment getting much worse -- mass deforestation, global warming, declining fresh water supplies, much of it abetted by ever-spiraling population growth?

While it's true we don't actually worry about a US/Soviet nuclear exchange every day, the number of states with nuclear weapons has increased and the newer states that have them or are working on having them are less stable or have chaotic or messianic motivations.

The nature of some of our conflicts seems more intractable due to the lack of state actors involved and in some cases leaving states that are marginally viable or stateless altogether (Libya, parts of subsaharan Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria).

It seems too simple to just dismiss a sense of pessamism as human nature and media styles.

Weak arguments

By prefec2 • Score: 3 • Thread

Many charts cover only 30 years which is not really a long period in human history. Therefore, the deductions made on that charts are weak or only valid for that short time period. Beside this overall impression, I want to point out in detail the argument about democracy. There are more democracies now than in 1945 or even in 1988. However, this only looks on the name these states give themselves on paper. Many democracies suffer today from lobbying, like the US, the UK, and Germany, which has a negative impact on participation and limits real democratic processes. Furthermore, most Western democracies have an imbalance in media communication, with the all time low of FoxNews.

And it is even worse when you look at the democracies in east Europe. Especially at Hungary, where the prime minister Orban changed the constitution to limit the power of the supreme court. He also favours a illiberal democracy, which is a democracy with no minority rights. That results at the end in no democracy at all. He is also racist beyond comprehension. And Poland just elected a very very very right wing party and president. The latter already stated that judges which are critical of his doings will face disciplinary actions. So there goes the separation of powers.

Or you could look at Greece. It does not matter which government they elect, the EU commission, the ECB, and the IMF define what happens in Greece. And it looks similar for Portugal, Spain, and Italy.

Therefore, democracy is presently in the West not in a good shape. And I do not know if they counted Russia as democratic country. And the situation in India is also not that positive. So I conclude that their assessment on democracy is not correct at all.

DecryptorMax/CryptInfinite Ransomware Decrypted, No Need To Pay Ransom

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Emsisoft has launched a new tool capable of decrypting files compromised by the DecryptorMax (CryptInfinite) ransomware. The tool is quite easy to use, and will generate a decryption key. For best results users should compare an encrypted and decrypted file, but the tool can also get the decryption key by comparing an encrypted PNG with a random PNG downloaded off the Internet.

Nice tool from Emsisoft

By ITRambo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Apparently, the bad-guy equivalent of script kiddies (or toddlers) put this ransomware out. No program should be able to decrypt a "properly" encrypted file, or set of files, in a few hours. A lot of people dodged a bullet here as Emsisoft puts out great software. Kudos to them for offering this tool

Random .PNG file?

By CanEHdian • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Why would you need a random .png from the Internet? Can't they just keep whatever part they need (header?) as part of the binary?

Odd way to release a security tool

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I wondered why the summary has links to articles on Softpedia and Bleeping Computer instead of linking directly to Emsisoft, whose employee wrote the decryption utility. But it seems Emsisoft has dropped the ball, as they have nothing on their home page or their blog or their changelog that mentions this tool. In fact I can't find any reference to this on their site at all, which makes me suspicious about downloading it.

Both of the articles in the summary point to a link on instead of Domain registration and name servers point to being a legitimate host under the control of Emsisoft, but who knows? What a weird way to release a security tool, with zero announcements on your company website and the download hosted at a URL shortener.

Ask Slashdot: Buy Or Build a High End Gaming PC?

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Looking at some Black Friday ads, I'm seeing some good deals on Alienware and other gaming rigs that would be cheaper than building them from scratch. If you built or were to build a high end gaming rig, what would you suggest? Or would you just get a prebuilt system and customize it to your needs? I'm not looking for cheap, I want best quality and performance, but not overkill that would rival supercomputers and at the same time break my bank account. It would be a Windows system to keep my family happy, but possibly dual boot with Linux to keep me happy. It will be located in the livingroom hooked up to a regular monitor and the big screen TV, replacing a budget PC that's in there now.

If you can't afford two computers...

By ZeroPly • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
... then you can't afford a "high end" gaming rig.

Dual-boot is NOT where you want to go with a gaming machine, you'll be fighting drivers on the Linux side every time you get a fresh-off-the-shelf expensive hardware component. If you care enough about gaming performance to even consider building a machine from scratch, then commit to that - rather than trying to make it a jack of all trades.

I've been using Linux since 1992, Windows a few years longer. In that time, I've built up dozens of machines. My suggestion: build a Linux box with components that you know will work with Linux - for example, I stay clear of nVidia because many of those cards are a nightmare on Linux. On my gaming machine I run a $300 nVidia card, etc etc.

Hardware is cheap. What's your time worth?


By gnupun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

And what if a pre-assembled PC is cheaper than your custom built PC by $300-$400 provided certain minor things are inferior to your custom PC? Businesses can buy components in bulk, at a far cheaper rate than the huge markup a typical customer gives to component makers when he buys individual components. You also don't have to deal with malfunctioning parts because the pre-assembled PC has been tested.

So it's not all black and white.


By zenlessyank • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The question was about the fact of better, not cheaper. It is always better to build it yourself. And the reason is this.....If Origin PC closes up shop, the warranty is dead, since it was purchased through OEM channels. An OEM warranty is not the same as a Retail warranty. I can always send back my retail motherboard to EVGA and my retail hard drive to Western Digital. If I try to send back an OEM to WD, they will deny it. Been there, done that. Now if we were talking about cheaper then you are correct. You can find companies who basically use standard parts purchased under OEM discounts. But I will NEVER use them. Because it is NOT BETTER. NEXT QUESTION.

Re: Quality and compatibility ...

By nehumanuscrede • Score: 4 • Thread
Building your own ensures your system won't come preinstalled with malware, ( Windows notwithstanding ) bogus certificates and other assorted nastiness. It also ensures you can get what you want, vs what you have to settle for in a commercial build.


By ranton • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

And what if a pre-assembled PC is cheaper than your custom built PC by $300-$400 provided certain minor things are inferior to your custom PC?

This never happens. Not for a high end gaming PC anyway. For budget computers that are sold for a few hundred dollars that may be true but not for anything that will accommodate high end gaming. It is in fact the other way around, where a custom built PC can be up to and above $1000 cheaper than a pre-assembled one.

Take a simple example of an Alienware Area-51 PC with an i7-5930K, 16 GB 2133MHz DDR4 RAM, GTX 970, and 512 GB SSD. Not top of the line but certainly a great gaming PC. It costs $2750. Going to Newegg, I can get the processor (460), motherboard($150), ram (100), video card (350), intel 480 GB ssd (270), a high endcoolermaster case w/850W PS (280), and OS(100) for $1710. That is a $1000 difference. When looking for a higher end machine with 32 GB RAM and dual GTX 980 the difference came to almost $1250. That is pretty extreme.

Air Force Hires Civilian Drone Pilots For Combat Patrols

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 writes: For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls "combat air patrols," daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence. Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

Re:This isn't hard folks

By TWX • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Mother's Basements and other places used for self-imposed isolation exist in all places and probably in all cultures.

The biggest problem is finding people that will follow orders when the penalty for not following orders is lower than it is for a military officer or enlistee. That barrier will probably preclude civilian contractors that have never had military service from performing that job. Don't know about former-military civilian contractors though, they might be better at not flinching, but then there's the legality issues surrounding the ramifications of bad calls where innocent people died, or where someone intentionally does something that kills noncombatants. At least in the past civilian contractors had to be present to do the acts that killed innocents such that the country in which the acts were committed could mount something of an objection. What's the law on a civilian remotely operating a machine in a foreign country that's specifically equipped to kill, using that machine to kill? At least a military member could see prosecution if through the military system of justice, but I don't know how well that would work for civilians.

Re:so, open season on American civilians now?

By silas_moeckel • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

To be at war requires you have a nation state and declared war. No nation state is willing to openly declare war so we end up with nation state sponsored or at least ignored terrorism/asymmetric warfare.

Re:This isn't hard folks

By ColdWetDog • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

TFA explicitly points out that the civilians will not be pulling the trigger. They will be used only for Combat Air Patrols (a term that seems just a bit inappropriate) that are for data gathering and surveillance only. The trigger pullers will be active duty military.

The problem, in TFA's eyes is that this represents a slippery slope - how many degrees of separation do you need in a military setting?


By tlambert • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Those things aren't armed, so short of someone using one of those drones for a kamikaze strike (which i'd imagine would be p. hard given that the thing is flying relatively high and there are armed soldiers in the room), there isn't much one can do.
You can get shot down, but that's about it.

The MQ-9 typically carries an ordnance load-out of some kind, even when operating in an observer role; it's just that when it's operating in an observer role, it carries less ordnance, not zero.

Typically, if the analysts get alerted, and while watching the feed, decide that they need to go "weapons hot", there is a military pilot or two in the room with the civilian pilots to handle laser-painting the targets, or the dropping of ordnance on them.

Require military trigger pullers

By Etherwalk • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

TFA explicitly points out that the civilians will not be pulling the trigger. They will be used only for Combat Air Patrols (a term that seems just a bit inappropriate) that are for data gathering and surveillance only. The trigger pullers will be active duty military.

The problem, in TFA's eyes is that this represents a slippery slope - how many degrees of separation do you need in a military setting?

IIRC, the air force has about four major protocol points that they follow in order to ensure that drone strikes are legal. One of those is that the person pulling the trigger be military so that you are ensured a direct chain of command, i.e. legal authority to kill others on behalf of the state, (this also ensures they get qualified immunity from lawsuits.)

Peter Thiel: We Need a New Atomic Age

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link writes: Peter Thiel writes in the NYT that what's especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. "But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie "The China Syndrome," about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled," says Thiel. "If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago. Instead, we went in reverse."

According to Thiel, a new generation of American nuclear scientists has produced designs for better reactors. Crucially, these new designs may finally overcome the most fundamental obstacle to the success of nuclear power: high cost. Designs using molten salt, alternative fuels and small modular reactors have all attracted interest not just from academics but also from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists like me ready to put money behind nuclear power. However, none of these new designs can benefit the real world without a path to regulatory approval, and today's regulations are tailored for traditional reactors, making it almost impossible to commercialize new ones. "Both the right's fear of government and the left's fear of technology have jointly stunted our nuclear energy policy," concludes Thiel. "supporting nuclear power with more than words is the litmus test for seriousness about climate change. Like Nixon's going to China, this is something only Mr. Obama can do. If this president clears the path for a new atomic age, American scientists are ready to build it."

Good luck with that

By Maury Markowitz • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

"But after years of cost overruns"

Stop there. This is the #1 reason for the failure of nuclear. The *average* cost overrun was over 2x. Once you factored that in, the cost benefits promised simply disappeared.

When this happened with the first generation reactors, they said those designs sucked, we know how to fix them, and that will be generation 2. When the exact same thing happened with with the gen 2 reactors, they said those designs sucked, and designed generation 3 reactors. And then we started to build those designs...

"According to Thiel, a new generation of American nuclear scientists has produced designs for better reactors. Crucially, these new designs may finally overcome the most fundamental obstacle to the success of nuclear power: high cost."

Yeah, except we're building a couple of these, and they immediately went over budget and continue to do so:

When faced with problems like these, the "new generation" said those designs sucked, we know how to fix them, and that will be "new nuclear". And those designs exist only on paper, and offer no reasonable explanation while they will break the 50 year cycle of suck.

The basic problem isn't nuclear, it's big. Big projects go over just as often as little projects, but when they do the magnitude is larger and people notice. A million $1000 cost overruns isn't news, but one $1 billion overrun is, as the articles above note. And, sadly, nuclear needs to be big. Don't believe the hype from the small modular people, the concept is inherently flawed and thats why all the big companies dumped their design efforts and the only people still supporting them are two people and a dog shops.

Re:Make no mistake

By westlake • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Nuclear energy's effective demise was not of its own making.

When you look back at the nuclear plants which proved most costly and trouble prone and what you see are companies that were building beyond their financial resources and technical competence. Nuclear energy's demise was caused by a loss of confidence in the management of nuclear power --- and for that there is no easy technical fix.


By fnj • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Just require that every atomic plant owner makes an insurance, for which you require that they have proper securities.

Fine; you've loaded the cost onto the ratepayers, which is just about everyone, so that's not unreasonable, but you have also made some low-life parasitic scum in an insurance company rich as lords, which there is no need or excuse to do.

Let the society as a whole "insure" the plant owners against catastrophes, as they largely do now. Then it's still the same "everyone" paying the cost, but you've eliminated the parasites.

But I would complete the rationalization. I would make society as a whole the builders and operators of the plants. Then you've eliminated more parasites, and profit motives would never intrude into the operation and create lackadaisical, corner-cutting practices.

Tell me this hasn't worked wonders for France.

Re:"Failed" push for renewables?

By gweihir • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Germany had a Thorium reactor in the 300MW range. They never managed to work out the kinks. Apparently this technology is extremely hard to get to work right.

Re:"Failed" push for renewables?

By angel'o'sphere • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

That was however a complete different beast than today is talked about.
E.g. it used thorium/uranium filled graphite balls. The way that particular thing worked had many drawbacks, reprocessing e.g. was impossible, the outer layers of the graphite would start to "melt" and got slimy in a way that they stuck together and made control difficult (control rods could not move freely)

In our days, if people talk about thorium they mean molten slat reactors ... which have different drawbacks.

Parts of Falcon 9 Launcher Wash Ashore In England

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
RockDoctor writes with news as reported by the BBC that parts of a Falcon 9 launcher have washed ashore on the Scilly Islands off the SW coast of Britain. Early impressions are that the pieces are from the failed Falcon 9 ISS launch which exploded after take-off in June. That's not the only possibility, though; according to the article, However Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said many experts believed, due to the size and markings which have now been revealed, it was from a different mission. "All the geeks have been getting together and looking at fine details, and we're pretty sure it's a launch from September 2014 that successfully sent a cargo mission to the space station. "It didn't look like an exploded rocket to me, it looked like a fairly normal piece of space junk when the lower stage of a rocket falls from a hundred miles up and hits the ocean. Large sections can remain in tact and it's really quite normal," he said.

'not the only possibility'

By queazocotal • Score: 3 • Thread

= certainly not correct.
It's CRS4 - the fourth launch to ISS.


The logo wasn't painted quite the same each time, and is very clear from the part.

Re:Pick one...

By Dogtanian • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

So is it Britain or England? I'ts not 'rocket science' guys.

As the other guy said, Britain or England are both correct, since England is a part of Britain and despite their position quite some distance from the mainland, the Scilly Isles are still considered part of England.

As a nationalistic Scot, I dislike when "England" and "Britain" are used interchangeably, and the headline/summary discrepancy does smack of that being the reason- however, since it was still technically correct I wasn't going to make a deal of it until you made that comment.

(You can stop reading here if you don't want a confusingly-detailed breakdown of the various terms. Just at least do me a favour as long as I have to remain technically British and don't assume "English" and "British" are synonyms! )

FWIW, if one wants to start nitpicking, the term "Britain" on its own isn't really well-enough defined in modern usage to argue over- beyond the fact it definitely *isn't* synonymous with "England". Generally "Britain" tends to be used even by people here as synonymous with the political state of the United Kingdom (i.e. the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"). "Great Britain" is the geographic term for the main island including Scotland, England and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, hence the full name of the UK. Meanwhile, the "British Isles"- a geographic term- includes the island of Ireland (part of which is of course an entirely independent country), along with some others such as the Isle of Man and the aforementioned Scilly Isles. (Some people in the Irish Republic dislike the term "British Isles", which is understandable given the use of "British" above).

What's really going to bake your noodle is that whereas the Scilly Isles are considered part of England, the Isle of Man, despite being a British crown dependency roughly the same distance from the mainland, isn't even technically a part of the United Kingdom itself... :-/

Actually, now that I've looked into it, the Channel Islands (i.e. Guernsey and Jersey) are also considered a part of the "British Isles"- a nominally geographic term- despite the fact they're far closer to- and more obviously associated with- France. One might suspect they were only counted as part of the "British Isles" for political reasons, since they're British crown dependencies, albeit not a part of the UK itself (like the Isle of Man).

C.H.I.P. vs Pi Zero: Which Sub-$10 Computer Is Better?

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
Make Magazine weighs in on a issue that's suddenly relevant in a world where less thn $10 can buy a new, (nominally) complete computer. Which one makes most sense? Both the $9 C.H.I.P and the newest, stripped-down Raspberry Pi model have plusses and minuses, but to make either one actually useful takes some additional hardware; at their low prices, it's not surprising that neither one comes with so much as a case. The two make different trade-offs, despite being just a few dollars apart in ticket price. C.H.I.P. comes with built-in storage that rPi lacks, for instance, but the newest Pi, like its forebears, has built in HDMI output. Make's upshot? The cost of owning either a C.H.I.P. or a Pi is a bit more money than the retail cost of the boards. Peripherals such as a power cable, keyboard, mouse, and monitor are necessary to accomplish any computer task on either of the devices. But it turns out the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero costs significantly more to operate than the Next Thing Co. C.H.I.P.

Re:Oh, great. Millennials and their denial!

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I see this "Where does this bullshit keep coming from?" all the time from you Millennial/Hipster types.

Everything is a problem for Millennial/Hipster types, especially the ones in college. What a bunch of whiny, brainless pussies they are. They want college to be a "safe space", which is exactly what college should not be.

College should be a place where your core beliefs are mercilessly challenged, not a group-think sandbox filled with pussified drones who get "triggered" by a word or a picture or a new idea. College should be a place where you find and experience new things, not an extension of the crib you had when you were 2 years old.

Millennial/Hipster types are walking, talking jokes who are terrified to call someone on the phone. They'll send you 100 texts rather than have an actual conversation. It's no wonder they're so fucked up.

I know guys in maximum security prisons who have more social interaction than your average Millennial. It's fucking hilarious to watch them wander around like zombies, glued to their fucking phones wondering why their lives are so pathetically empty and devoid of any meaning.

Re:Missing the point a bit?

By pjt33 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

On the subject of software, the rPi also comes with free (but licensed) Mathematica. Might not interest many people, but for me the idea of essentially treating it as a symbolic algebra coprocessor (via ssh) is the thing which is tempting me most towards getting a Zero.

Pi needed wifi or Ethernet

By rockmuelle • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I have a stack of model b pis that I use for various projects. What I love about them is that all I need is an Ethernet cable to use them. No keyboard, mouse, display - just a standard Ethernet cable and an ssh terminal. You know, that cable that hasn't changed in decades and that I have spares of in spades?

For the zero, I would need to invest in a collection of peripherals just to start it up. It's been years since I've had a USB mouse or keyboard (Bluetooth for all).

This was a big miss.


Credit card computer?

By Midnight Thunder • Score: 3 • Thread

Seeing these two computers, the Pi Zero has the advantage that is already shipping. The real extra cost is everything you need to be able to use them, such as USB adapter and HDMI adapter, since otherwise the onboard sockets are two small for most standard cables.

At the same time I look at these two computers and wonder how long before they simply simply print out credit-card computers? The main challenge would likely be the things like the video connectors and usb connectors, that would require something to physically soldered on. If they did get this problem sorted, then this could reduce the manufacturing cost dramatically.

Scrounging is also key

By EmperorOfCanada • Score: 3 • Thread
If I were some kid who's parents wouldn't buy him a computer and I effectively had no money then the whole thing would be about scrounging. With scrounging the key is the ready availability of parts. This then makes things like the more recent Model B units the ones that I would want. The key being that they have a standard hdmi along with the composite video. Also they have 4 standard USB plugs.

I can probably scrounge up some discarded monitor which means the only thing that I am going to have to buy is an HDMI to DVI converter ($5). After that the world is awash in old wired mice and keyboards. It is also awash in things that put out 5V from the wall along with the USB cords. Internet is still going to be a problem so finding some USB Wi-fi is probably going to be the biggest challenge.

But there is no scrounging the strange little mini-hdmi. I have never seen one of those in my life or career. And for some reason there is no great surplus of USB hubs, and I have never seen a USB hub that connects to that little USB connector. Thus that would be an adapter that would be hard to find.

So I don't see this new Pi as something for the kid who has nothing, but ideal for people like me with money and giant parts' bins who are building IoT and robots.

But I am way out in Canada. I can tell you the in store price for one of these nine dollar boards will be $19.99 and ordering it will probably push the price closer to $30. For example I was at an electronics's store going out of business sale and they "discounted" their Pi 1 A+ all the way "down" to $35.

And for any Canadians reading this we also know about the "brokerage fees" that will probably be tacked on.

Hacker Cracks Lumia Bootloader, Offers Tool For Root Access and Custom ROMs

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
MojoKid writes: Microsoft and Nokia have worked hard making Lumia smartphones difficult to break into at a low-level, but software hacker Heathcliff has just proven that it's not impossible. He's just released a solid-looking tool called Windows Phone Internals, and it can do everything from unlocking the bootloader to replacing the phone's ROM. WP Internals is a completely free download, though Heathcliff welcomes donations by those who've found the tool useful. According to the "Getting Started" section of the tool, supported models include Lumia 520, 521, 525, 620, 625, 720, 820, 920, 925, 928, 1020, and 1320. If your model is not on the list, the developer has said that he hopes to add more models in the near future.

Re:Landfill-saving hero

By Billly Gates • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Funny I was thinking the same thing with my crappy slow and buggy samsung galaxy thats stuck with Android.

WindowsPhone is the best mobile OS I ever used with a superior UI that never crashes, freezes, or glitches and runs 400 to 500% faster. My 820 which inferior hardware to my Galaxy S 5 was so much faster. To this day cut and pasting calander events with conference calls with pins is not possible with Android. You need to write down the pin with paper and a pen.

The same sheep who choose Windows 98 over linux are the same choosing Android over Windows Phone.

Re:Landfill-saving hero

By serviscope_minor • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

The same sheep who choose Windows 98 over linux are the same choosing Android over Windows Phone.

I think I speak for everyone reading this post when I say: u wot m8?

Re:the higher level point

By Opportunist • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Soon people will have to break the laws to own what they buy.

For everyone who has ever wondered just why the decks in cyberpunk stories and games are so horribly expensive when technology is so pervasive (and hence should be cheap): They're devices that the owners own. Which is probably by the time these stories play already a grey area by itself, and certainly these things are not mainstream.

No, it uses standard Windows kernel

By Myria • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

That's not true. WinPhone uses an ARM port of the same NT kernel used on desktops. It's essentially the same kernel as used on the Windows RT tablets, which had a desktop.

I know this because I managed to load an unsigned kernel driver using my CVE-2015-2552 exploit long before this release.

They will just uninstall it

By Stan92057 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
And whats to stop MS from uninstalling the program? They started uninstalling programs on Win 10 without permission what to stop them from doing this?

Finnish IT Retailer Reveals Most Returned Products

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
jones_supa writes: The largest computer gear retailer in Finland,, has unveiled top 20 lists of most returned and most serviced equipment in 2015 (Google translation). To offer an alternative to Black Friday, the company is going with a theme called "Sustainable Christmas". They want to guide shoppers to make good choices, as product returns always create extra burden for the distribution chain. Is there anything that catches your eye in the lists, or something else that you would like to warn about?

Re:Extension cable Return - did not reach my toile

By GuB-42 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Color not as expected.

Ordered white/gold dress, received blue/back one...

I Process Retail Returns Daily

By mentil • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The list is no surprise. Their top returns can be classified into 3 categories:
1) Tablet cases/covers. Oftentimes they explicitly claim to fit the iPads, and also other 10.1/7" tablets, but end up too loose and the tablet slips out, and of course the straps aren't adjustable. Few people bring their tablet into the store to check, and it's likely a present and still in a box.

2) Devices which utilize radio waves. Interference by walls/furniture, and other devices, cause reception to vary widely. The overloaded 2.4GHz spectrum is making this gradually worse. For wireless audio, people have little tolerance for the signal cutting out. Remember 'antennagate'? A poor wifi antenna can make a tablet (or unlocked phone) hard to use.

3) Sticks of RAM. I was kinda surprised by this, although thinking back to how many unused sticks of RAM I own that my mobos just won't work with for various reasons, it shouldn't be too surprising. Some people likely get SODIMMs instead of DIMMs and vice versa, or the wrong speed, or the wrong DDR tech.

In brick and mortar, top electronics returns are phone chargers with the wrong plug (Lightning instead of micro-usb or vice versa), and $5 headphones whose wires snap after bending them twice. Tablets are next, followed by Wifi speakers. God, the tablets; the cheap ones are cheap enough to be unusable, but are expensive enough to warrant returning, so the return rate is ~75% on some of them. Printers were very frequently returned because the manufacturer tried to save 50cents by not including a USB-B cable; customers would complain it had no cable, and for some reason they don't have a dozen laying around their house like I do. Only including a black ink cartridge and no color (or vice versa) was another frequently given reason. If people weren't able to rip the packaging open and try it on, I imagine many smartphone cases would be returned; apparently noone knows what phone they have, and have to try to put the case on in order to figure out if it'll fit. At best, they know they have an iPhone, or 'a Samsung', but most often, it's e.g. 'a Verizon'. Most amusing return award: an HDMI cable returned for 'not working with a 3d signal' despite the packaging explicitly saying it did. Surprisingly, (small) TVs were almost never returned, I guess they really do encourage passivity.

Re: I am sorry

By binarylarry • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

It's a bit like a verkkokauppa.

remote-controlled panzer...

By Golden_Rider • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

Number 11 on the top list of returned refurbished products is a "remote-controlled rechargeable Panzer III". Well, I guess once you have flattened your neighbour's home, there is not much use left for having your own Panzer. Wonder how often that one has already been sold and returned again.

how does your inner circle feel now

By lucm • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Too bad you specifically asked one of those guys for a solution because *I* do have one.