Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest

Adblock Plus Victorious Again In Court

Posted by samzenpusView
New submitter Xochil writes: AdBlock Plus has successfully defended itself in court for the second time in five weeks. The Munich Regional Court ruled against media companies ProSiebenSat1 and IP Deutschland. The companies sued Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, asking the court to ban the distribution of the free ad-blocking software, saying it hurts their ad-based business model. An Eyeo release says in part: "We are elated at the decision reached today by the Munich court, which is another win for every internet user. It confirms each individual’s right to block annoying ads, protect their privacy and, by extension, determine his or her own internet experience. This time it also confirms the legitimacy of our Acceptable Ads initiative as a compromise in the often contentious and rarely progressive world of online advertising."

A Ph.D Thesis Defense Delayed By Injustice 77 Years

Posted by samzenpusView
Taco Cowboy writes: A story about a 102-year old lady doing her PhD thesis defense is not that common, but when the thesis defense was delayed by a whopping 77 years, that gotta raise some eyebrows. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport studied diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in Germany and in 1938, the 25-year old Protestant-raised, German-born Ingeborg submitted for her doctorate thesis defense. She was denied her chance for her defense because her mother was of the Jewish ancestry, making her an official "cross-breed". As such the Nazi regime forbid the university from proceeding with her defense, for "racial reasons".

She became one of the thousands of scholars and researchers banished from German academe, which at the time included many of the world's most prestigious research institutions, because of Jewish ancestry or opposition to Nazi policies. Many of them ended up suffering or dying in concentration camps. Rudolf Degkwitz, Syllm's professor, was imprisoned for objecting to euthanizing children. Syllm, however, was able to reach the United States and earned her medical degree from the old Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Eventually she married a fellow physician named Samuel Mitja Rapoport, had a family, and moved back to Germany in the 1950s, where she achieved prominence in neonatology. Syllm-Rapoport, who is now 102 years old, might have remained just a doctor (if a very accomplished one) had not the present dean of the Hamburg medical school, Uwe Koch-Gromus, heard her story from a colleague of her son, Tom Rapoport, a Harvard cell biologist.

Determined to do what he could to mitigate this wrong, Koch-Gromus arranged Syllm-Rapoport's long-delayed defense. Despite failing eyesight, she brushed up on decades of developments in diphtheria research with the help of friends and the Internet. Koch-Gromus called the 45-minute oral exam given by him and two colleagues on 13 May in her Berlin living room "a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then. Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."

All kudos to Uwe Koch-Gromus

By Alain Williams • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

for arranging this. It might be largely symbolic, but I heartily approve of what he has done. Something bright & positive, better than the trials of ancient concentration camp officials.

This wasn't delayed by injustice

By bluefoxlucid • Score: 3 • Thread

Her defense wasn't delayed by injustice; it was delayed by assholes. Injustice is a thing, a concept, one not entirely tied to reality; it is an abstract aligned to our moral beliefs. We don't consider the vicious treatment of pedophiles in America injustice because we hate them, even though empirically we can make some arguments about mental health and the fermentation of social pressures forcing people with an internal sickness into hiding, stress, and then the shape of something they could have avoided with proper social support. We consider victimization of Jews injustice because we've started this moral narrative about how hating on Jews is bad.

The fact of the matter is it's people who made decisions about their regards toward and actions about race that delayed this Ph.D. defense. It's assholes. It's people who decided to bar this from being heard. Injustice is a diffuse thing, like the injustice of a court system which executes more blacks than whites on similar evidence; it lifts blame off the participants and onto the mode of society or of misfortune. We pretend these actors don't exist, or at least that they aren't directly responsible for their actions, even though the victims are directly burdened by them. That nebulous ideal is immaterial to the consequences of society; the fact that people went along with it instead of using their human reason and empathy to decide against these happenings is squarely the fault of those people, not the fault of the speculation about what those people did.

What happened wasn't wrong; *you* were wrong for doing it.

Do some editing

By wonkey_monkey • Score: 3 • Thread

that gotta raise some eyebrows.

And you gotta learn how to use apostrophes. And not write "gotta."

As such the Nazi regime forbid

Forbade, or possibly forbad. If you don't know the correct tense of the verb you want to use, either look it up or think of another one.

Prospects and Limits For the LHC's Capabilities To Test String Theory

Posted by samzenpusView
StartsWithABang writes: The Large Hadron Collider has just been upgraded, and is now making the highest energy collisions of any human-made machine ever. But even at 13 TeV, what are the prospects for testing String Theory, considering that the string energy scale should be up at around 10^19 GeV or so? Surprisingly, there are a number of phenomenological consequences that should emerge, and looking at what we've seen so far, they may disfavor String Theory after all.

String Theory\0

By Greyfox • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
If string theory does end up being proven, they're going to have to be careful not to overwrite the null terminator, or the universe will sigsegv.

One quote from the article that is nice...

By Hussman32 • Score: 3 • Thread

"The production of tiny black holes is one of the predictions. "

No concerns at all with that one.

Man I hope they know what they are doing.

Which string theory?

By gstoddart • Score: 3 • Thread

Aren't there like 40 things called string theory, ranging from merely odd or unlikely all the way up to batshit crazy?

I've gotten the sense over the years there's so many things called string theory you can't coherently say what any of it is, or how you'd test it.

Hell, I'm not even convinced many physicists take it seriously. Which means for the layperson, it mostly sounds like gibberish.

It just has all the hallmarks of being so unexplainable as to be meaningless. Which I'm sure is grounded in my lack of understanding due to the fact that it's so magical as to be unexplainable.

Re:One quote from the article that is nice...

By Coren22 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

More energetic collisions happen in the upper atmosphere all the time when cosmic rays enter. If there was concern of black holes eating the earth, it would already have happened.

Here's some great camera footage at the LHC for you if you are really concerned:

http://www.cyriak.co.uk/lhc/lh...

How Much C++ Should You Know For an Entry-Level C++ Job?

Posted by SoulskillView
Nerval's Lobster writes: How much C++ do you need to know to land an entry-level job that's heavy in C++? That's a question Dice posed to several developers. While the exact topic was C++, the broader question of "How much X do you actually need to know to make money off it?" could also apply to any number of programming languages. In the case of C++, basics to know include virtual methods, virtual destructors, operator overloading, how templates work, correct syntax, the standard library, and more. Anything less, and a senior developer will likely get furious; they have a job to do, and that job isn't teaching the ins and outs of programming. With all that in mind, what's a minimum level of knowledge for a programming language for entry-level developers?

Code reviews

By JustNiz • Score: 3 • Thread

Your best bet is to find out if the place you intend to work for does regular peer reviews of code as a part of their process, and if not either stay clear or get an agreement that they will code review your stuff at least for a few months until you know the ropes.
Code reviews of your efforts, if done properly, are the best way I know of becoming effective quickly.

As a hiring manager

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

As a C++ hiring manager I like you to have a relevant degree; know C++-98 pitfalls to the level of Meyers, "Exceptional C++", "More Exceptional C++"; be aware of or know the Gang of Four Patterns. Familiarity with Sutter and Alexandrescu's writings are nice. Knowledge of Lakos and physical design (rate) is a big bonus. In a big project, even with good programmers, they usually make a mess out of the physical design. Some understanding of unit test and coverage is good too.

Re:As a hiring manager

By janoc • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

And I do hope that you offer a senior developer wages as well for these sort of requirements. The OP was talking entry level job.

People requiring these sort of skills for an entry level job are the true reason for the perceived "lack of IT talent" - unreasonable expectations and entry level pay.

First, define what you mean by "C++"

By Miamicanes • Score: 3 • Thread

Define what you mean by "C++".

C++ firmware for an Atmel AVR microcontroller?

C++ native Android loadable kernel module?

C++ MFC Windows app?

C++ hardware driver for Windows?

C++ Linux app built for GTK+?

The borderline-useless artificial construct college textbooks pretend is C++ for the sake of having something consistent and coherent to teach students for a few years at a time?

My point is that knowing "C++" (as an abstract, academic construct) barely equips you to do anything commercially useful with it. Probably 60% of what you need to know to do anything useful in C++ is platform-dependent, and another 20-30% is IDE-dependent (at least, in the Windows & Android realms, where trying to do anything independently of Visual Studio or Android Studio is an exercise in masochistic frustration (because both platforms are so tightly-coupled to their respective IDEs).

Re:How to read f*ucked up code

By goose-incarnated • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The biggest skill in C++ is how to read code that's got templates, generics, overloaded operators, and custom keywords.

"What do you mean they overloaded '+' to merge objects?"

"This doesn't look like C++, it looks like some foreign language."

"Oh, we reversed the meaning of + and - because the senior guy thought that the original semantics were incorrect. But only for some objects."

This. Outside of academia I've never encountered C++ written in a sane manner. Hell, even inside of academia things get a bit iffy. Things you can expect to see if you ever maintain C++ code:

* Objects passed by value which don't have a deep assignment copy constructor.

* File scope objects using other file-scope objects - "Because VS2010 ensures instantiation order."

* Dependencies with no real reason; this is especially bad on Qt projects. Why use std::vector when you can use a QVector?

* const char *use_this_later = MyQstringObject.toStdString().c_str(); // Bang! There goes another foot... maybe if we had GC...

* You used copy semantics? You *meant* move semantics (This should never had made it into the standard).

* Overloaded functions - "myfunc (foo);" does something different to "myfunc (bar);", because hilariously foo and bar are different types

* Ditto for operators - "foo + bar" does something quite different to "bar + foo".

* Other than "type var[size];" there is no primitive array type. Arrays are implemented in the library, not in the language like every other sane language.

* No GC. In other languages you can get away with it, but in C++ you stand no chance - someone, somewhere back in the mists of the past, would have created a critically dependent-upon class that *will* return a temporary object that gets deleted automatically while you still have references. QString, for example.

All of the above, in addition to all of the gotcha's in C as well. In this day and age there is very little reason to use C++. If you need objects, UI, etc use Java or C#. If you don't need objects use C; at least you can trivially expose every single piece of C code you've written to other languages via a library. This lets you reuse your code. The only C++ code you'll ever expose to other languages are C-compatible functions.

I'm looking, right now, at a mountain of code, some 20+ classes, many with file-scope instantiations, every single fucking object a Qt object. The original developer noticed that the code for Qt-derived classes won't compile without a copy constructor so he very cleverly made empty copy constructors for all the classes so that even a shallow copy won't be performed. As expected, he also stores instances in containers - which means every now and then the program would give incorrect results with seemingly no predictable occurrences. It doesn't crash, mind, just gives incorrect answers.

Good luck; you'll need it.

Stay away from C++ - stick to languages that implement context-free grammars only.

Red Hat CEO Publishes Open Source Management Memoir

Posted by SoulskillView
ectoman writes: Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has just published The Open Organization, a book that chronicles his tenure as leader of the world's largest open source company. The book aims to show other business leaders how open source principles like transparency, authenticity, access, and openness can enhance their organizations. It's also filled with information about daily life inside Red Hat. Whitehurst joined Red Hat in 2008 after leaving Delta Airlines, and he says his time working in open source has changed him. "I thought I knew what it took to manage people and get work done," he writes in The Open Organization. "But the techniques I had learned, the traditional beliefs I held for management and how people are taught to run companies and lead organizations, were to be challenged when I entered the world of Red Hat and open source." All proceeds from the book benefit the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Opensource.com is hosting free book club materials.

Paging Mark Shuttleworth

By sunderland56 • Score: 3 • Thread
Please read this book. It shows that you can lead an open source company and *not* be universally hated.

Just another arrogant CEO

By walterbyrd • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

patting himself on the back.

Seems like he took over just before Red Hat started to suck.

For the last few years, Red Hat has been making a lot of peculiar decisions to replace standard Linux components, with inferior Red Hat components. Now we have systemd, and an all out war against POSIX, and all things standard UNIX/Linux in favor of Red Hat's propriety solutions.

I am surprised that so few people see the writing on the wall.

Don't plan to read it...

By whitroth • Score: 3 • Thread

Let's see, he came from running Delta Airlines to run RH. Then, back in December, at a RH dog-and-pony here at work, we watched a 20 min video as part of the many-hour presentation. I was amazed at how he could fill the entire 20 minutes with *nothing* but management buzzwords, and say pretty much nothing else at all.

                  mark

CEO cheerleading book

By ErichTheRed • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

One of the things that bothers me about books like this is how they become primary reference material for MBAs and managers. I've lost count of how many times managers have referenced "Good to Great" or Jack Welch's book to implement very questionable policies. Some guy waxing poetic on what a wonderful job he's done is a lot different from a rigorous study.

One real world example about anecdotal evidence shaping global HR policy is the Google "open floor plan" office trend. Our company is moving from semi-private cubes and offices to a hideous Google-style design. This is for a professional services company where most people require quiet, and are taking phone calls and working on individual/small group projects, not for a software startup. We and countless other companies are doing this simply because Google does it, and has published many articles on how wonderful it is. Evidence is coming out against this (increased sick time, loss of concentration, people hating their co-workers more, etc.) but damnit, if it works for Google it must be right.

Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

Posted by SoulskillView
mi writes: President Obama has asked the Senate to renew key Patriot Act provisions before their expiration on May 31. This includes surveillance powers that let the government collect Americans' phone records. Obama said, "It's necessary to keep the American people safe and secure." The call came despite recent revelations that the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help. "Obama noted that the controversial bulk phone collections program, which was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.

Ok, folks. Can we just?

By Opportunist • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Can we just fuse them back into the "Democratic Republicans" and be done with the whole show every other year? It's getting tiresome and it's mostly a waste of money and TV airtime, and in general a huge insult to the collective intelligence of the US people.

Seriously. Why not change the whole election game to something like the American Idol election? Everyone can vote as often as they like, corporations get a mass text rebate so they don't lose their right to choose who's going to make their laws, and the money for the messages goes to a fund for nations with crippled economies. In other words, hand it to the IRS.

And the candidates don't have to lie to us about what they claim they'd do, they have to sing and dance for us so they at least entertain us instead of just making us mad.

Re:Thanks, Obama

By Creepy • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Um, someone WAS trying to do something about it - Congress actually tried to sneak in an extension - there was a provision in the USA FREEDOM Act that extended section 215 until 2019 (originally it was 2017, and Rand Paul especially objected to tacking on another 2 years). That was passed by the House but defeated in the Senate. Incidentally, Obama was pro USA FREEDOM Act as well (and yes, all those caps are necessary - FREEDOM is a backronym, though I don't remember what it means).

From a president with a secret trade deal...

By gestalt_n_pepper • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If we, the people, can't even look at the content of a trade deal, I'm not too enthusiastic about letting the government look at the content of my activity.

For my money, Mr. Obama. the NSA, et. al. scan take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.

Re:Snooping Programs a help

By brxndxn • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The problem with your assessment is that you are actually taking the FBI for their word. They are saying they need this and the only problems are possibly too much data. Of course they are saying they need this.. but the real purpose isn't for terrorism or even crime-fighting. The purpose of bulk record storage on American citizens is to have a dossier on anyone that may end up being a threat to the existing internal power structure of the US. That is why they are willing to spend so much money on a program that has so far proven to have very little use. I do not believe there has been any point in history where so many resources were spent with such few results.

Re:What a guy

By OhPlz • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Explain Joe Biden.

Heat Wave Kills More Than 1,100 In India

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader sends word that a week-long heat wave in India has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 people. Temperatures reached 47C (117F) on Monday and are expected to stay dangerously high throughout the week. The heat and extreme dryness are being accompanied by strong westerly winds. "About one-third of the country's 1.2 billion people have access to electricity, meaning millions are enduring the blistering heat without relief." The local power grid has been struggling under high demand from fans and air conditioning. In some states, citizens are being advised to stay indoors during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its peak. Many hope the upcoming monsoons will return temperatues to less dangerous levels.

Re:Dry Heat

By Guy From V • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Knock it off, Hudson.

Unfortunate, but could be worse...

By xfade551 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
During major U.S. heat waves we typically get a similar number of deaths, and that's with about 1/3 the population. There are quite a few places in the world that get worse heat without heat waves. The worst two I've visited were Kuwait and Qatar, both read 140F/60C on thermometers in the shade (placement/calibration technically didn't meet weather station standards, so no "world record", but that is still the temperature people were subjected to). Qatar was worse though, the humidity was borderline condensing (some surfaces were damp with not a cloud in the sky); I'm glad I didn't have to stay there any longer than one day!

Slashdotness

By Daetrin • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Minus: You failed to use an obscure unit of measurement. I propose Congresses. This heat wave has killed 2.056 Congresses of people.

Plus: You used a decimal comma instead of a decimal point, allowing people to respond saying that you're adhering to a regionally specific custom that differs from their own regionally specific custom, and therefore are clearly doing it wrong.

Overall i rate your slashdotness at 77.3%, by means of an obscure personal rating system which i can't describe succinctly but will argue about endlessly if anyone disagrees with my conclusion.

Re:US help?

By YrWrstNtmr • Score: 4 • Thread
'airlift some water'

Well, that's about the dumbest thing I've read today.

Let's assume that 500,000,000 citizens are at risk in India.
Let's further assume that they would benefit from a mere 2 liters of water each, per day.

Water = 1kg per liter
747-400 MTOW - operating empty weight = ~215,000kg. So a 747 can lift 215,000 liters of water (assuming it actually fits inside)

To supply half a million people with 2 liters each, per day = 5,000 747 flights, every day.

airlift some water....right.

No Wonder

By dcw3 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

No wonder nobody is answering the phone at customer service.

In all seriousness, this is a shame, but why the fuck is it on Slashdot?

Clinton Foundation: Kids' Lack of CS Savvy Threatens the US Economy

Posted by SoulskillView
theodp writes: As the press digs for details on Clinton Foundation donations, including a reported $26+ million from Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's probably worth noting the interest the Clintons have developed in computer science and the role they have played — and continue to play — in the national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis that materialized after Microsoft proposed creating such a crisis to advance its 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy, which aims to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Next thing you know, Bill is the face of CS at the launch of Code.org. Then Hillary uses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference to launch a Facebook, Microsoft, and Google initiative to boost the ranks of female and students of color in CS, and starts decrying woeful CS enrollment. Not to be left out, Chelsea keynotes the NCWIT Summit and launches Google's $50M girls-only Made With Code initiative with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith. And last December, the Clinton Foundation touted its initiatives to engage middle school girls in CS, revamp the nation's AP CS program, and retrain out-of-work Americans as coders. At next month's CGI America 2015, the conference will kick off with a Beer Bust that CGI says "will also provide an opportunity to learn about Tech Girls Rock, a CGI Commitment to Action launched by CA Technologies in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that helps girls discover an interest in tech-related educational opportunities and careers." On the following days, CGI sessions will discuss tech's need for a strong and diverse talent pipeline for computer and information technology jobs, which it says is threatened by "the persistent poor performance of American students in science, technology, engineering, and math," presenting "serious implications for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy." So what's the long-term solution? Expanding CS education, of course!

Let's call it what it really is..

By Rigel47 • Score: 3 • Thread
The Clinton Corrupt Slush Fund for Easy Policy Change..

Need some weapons deals pushed through? Donate millions to the foundation! http://www.ibtimes.com/clinton...

And who really cares where the money goes.. Charity Navigator won't even rank them due to their "atypical business model." It's a slush fund for the Clintons to doll out favors to their political toadies. Nevermind Hillary's absurd "I can't carry two devices" excuse for hosting a private mail server in her house to conduct State Department business.

Re:You know what would REALLY motivate kids?

By Durrik • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Yes, there's Bernie Sanders who is contesting Clinton for the democratic nomination. He's also big on free tuition for college, which will probably fix the 'shortage' of American workers better than a lot of the other proposals made.

Re:You know what would REALLY motivate kids?

By phantomfive • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Bernie Sanders........who says, "no single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure would send the world economy into crisis. If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist."

I can sure support him on that. Paul Volcker says the same thing. Reading through his Wikipedia entry, I don't agree with him on everything, but he seems like a clear-minded and decent guy.

Re:You know what would REALLY motivate kids?

By Archangel Michael • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If an institution is too big to fail, then Politics was involved in getting it there, and politics will be involved in keeping it there.

As a Libertarian, I'm okay with failure, for the sole reason that failure is what fuels innovation.

That being said, Bernie is an interesting cat. He is a true socialist, who believes government has the ability to manage and shape the economy without unintended consequences. My experience is that most of the economic problems are due to (caused by) government interference, and not allowing the natural forces to work themselves out. Sometimes the lions eat the gazelles, sometimes the bugs eat the lions.

Re:Joke heard today

By russotto • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

My babbysitter just went to college to study 'Women's Studies', if I have more kids in 4 years time, she will be well qualified as babbysitter, and have a load of debt which will insure she has to work lots of hours, a lower rate. You can't help some people, they just have experience it.

If she completes her Women's Studies degree, then under no circumstances let her anywhere near your kids.

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.

Time to buy some SpaceX stocks....oh wait...

By Eloking • Score: 3 • Thread
Good news for them. If there's a sector where Aerospace with a huge margin (if not the only one), it's in the military. Look like SpaceX is entering the major league.

Elon Hours

By gatkinso • Score: 3 • Thread

And now Elon Musk will encounter the hordes of defense contractors who will refuse to work his infamous 60 hour weeks.

Context

By Bruce Perens • Score: 3 • Thread

This ends a situation in which two companies that would otherwise have been competitive bidders decided that it would cost them less to be a monopoly, and created their own cartel. Since they were a sole provider, they persuaded the government to pay them a Billion dollars a year simply so that they would retain the capability to manufacture rockets to government requirements.

Yes, there will be at least that Billion in savings and SpaceX so far seems more than competitive with the prices United Launch Alliance was charging. There will be other bidders eventually, as well.

Unfair competition

By DickBreath • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Maybe Space X will have a requirement to sell space launches through dealer networks, but United Launch Alliance will not have such a requirement.

A Text Message Can Crash An iPhone and Force It To Reboot

Posted by SoulskillView
DavidGilbert99 writes with news that a bug in iOS has made it so anyone can crash an iPhone by simply sending it a text message containing certain characters. "When the text message is displayed by a banner alert or notification on the lockscreen, the system attempts to abbreviate the text with an ellipsis. If the ellipsis is placed in the middle of a set of non-Latin script characters, including Arabic, Marathi and Chinese, it causes the system to crash and the phone to reboot." The text string is specific enough that it's unlikely to happen by accident, and users can disable text notification banners to protect themselves from being affected. However, if a user receives the crash-inducing text, they won't be able to access the Messages app without causing another crash. A similar bug crashed applications in OS X a few years ago.

Re:Is it 2013 again?

By hippo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

No, it's 1985 again. Or even earlier. 1985 was when I found out an escape sequence that would reboot the HP100 portable computer my boss used to access the message system on the HP 3000 minicomputer. Cue me sending an email with it in the subject. The reboot took so long the messaging system logged you off and handily when you log in it prints the subjects of your unread emails and around you go again.

This kind of stuff never gets old.

Nokia phones did this years ago.

By whoever57 • Score: 3 • Thread

Years ago, I had a number of Nokia flip phones. I also converted emails to text messages and sent them to the phone (actually, probably MMS, not SMS), so that I could read my emails on a dumb phone.

However, every now and again, I would receive a "text of death". The phone would receive a text message, crash, reboot, attempt to download text messages again, crash .... etc.. It continued to do this until the network would decide to give up attempting to send that MMS message.

I had several phones of the same model and they all did this.

Re: But Macs "just work", right?

By mjtaylor24601 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I'm willing to accept a garden with walls if it means I don't have to constantly worry about what unpatched vulnerability is ripe for exploitation on my phone.

You mean like that vulnerability where I can send you a text message and cause your phone to crash? ;-)

Re:I am amazed

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's not that NSString itself is broken, it's that the fact that 99.99% of the time an NSString is one 16-bit code unit per glyph that apps using it rarely test the use case where it's two code units per glyph. So a person goes in and writes an app that inserts a new character at a particular byte offset and it works 99.99% of the time, but if it happens to get stuck in the middle of a multi-code-unit glyph, the program breaks.

The documentation is no help. First off, it lies:

Conceptually, a CFString object represents an array of Unicode characters (UniChar) along with a count of the number of characters. The [Unicode] standard defines a universal, uniform encoding scheme that is 16 bits per character.

As we all should know, that's simply not true. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't know better. Unicode is not a universal, uniform encoding scheme that is 16 bits per character. Even UTF-16 isn't that.

A string object presents itself as an array of Unicode characters . You can determine how many characters a string object contains with the length method and can retrieve a specific character with the characterAtIndex: method. These two “primitive” methods provide basic access to a string object.

characterAtIndex returns a 16-bit integer. So obviously it has no way to actually represent wider unicode characters. The length method is not the number of characters on the screen, but the number of code units, which is different, but highly misleading to programmers. They're, again, the same thing 99.99% of the time, but those rare cases where they're not generally slip through testing. And this is why UTF-16 is such a hazardous encoding to use.

Yes, NSString is old. And that's part of the problem. It was made at a time where many thought that unicode was only going to be 16 bits. It hasn't aged well. And it's caused a lot of bugs over its time. And now I'd bet that it or something similar has created a brand new iPhone-equivalent of Winnuke.

Programmers really need two types of strings, and only two, for the lion's share of tasks. One, binary strings, where a char is always 8 bytes and operations can be optimized to heck and back. And two, unicode strings, where a char always represents a whole unicode character that you would display, and the count of characters represents the count of display characters and so forth. None of this "99.99% of the time it's one thing, but every so often it's another...". That's asking for bugs.

Re:Did they already fix this?

By Just Some Guy • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I immediately tried to crash every phone of every coworker who has an iPhone within earshot of me and it didn't work.

I too enjoy getting fired over stupid shit. Do you have any other suggestions I might try?

Volvo Self-Parking Car Hits People Because Owner Didn't Pay For Extra Feature

Posted by SoulskillView
schwit1 writes: A video that recently went viral shows a demonstration of a Volvo XC60's self-parking feature. It reverses itself, waits, and then confidently drives into a group of people at a non-negligible speed. (Two were hit, and while both were bruised, they were otherwise OK.) The situation was presumed to have resulted from a malfunction with the car — but the car might not have had the ability to recognize a human at all. A Volvo representative said the car was not equipped with the "Pedestrian detection" feature. That feature is sold as a separate package.

click bait

By NostalgiaForInfinity • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Summary from TFA:

(1) The car isn't self-parking, it's under driver control.

(2) Pedestrian detection wouldn't have helped because the driver was overriding the automatic features of the car.

Pedestrian detection costs extra money because it requires installing a radar and camera.

We reached out to Volvo for answers about what went wrong here, and the company’s response was also a bit disturbing. Volvo spokesperson Johan Larsson explained that the video is mislabeled. He said the car is not attempting to self-park. “It seems they are trying to demonstrate pedestrian detection and auto-braking,” said Larsson by email. “Unfortunately, there were some issues in the way the test was conducted.”

The pedestrian detection feature, which works using a radar in the car’s grill and a camera located behind the windshield. has been around since the mid 2000s, and even started detecting cyclists in 2011, but it costs approximately $3,000, according to IEEE.

But even if it did have the feature, Larsson says the driver would have interfered with it by the way they were driving and “accelerating heavily towards the people in the video.” “The pedestrian detection would likely have been inactivated due to the driver inactivating it by intentionally and actively accelerating,” said Larsson. “Hence, the auto braking function is overrided by the driver and deactivated.”

Re:dont' engage it with people there?

By Immerman • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The entire point of the Three Laws was to show that they couldn't possibly work as intended, and create lots of interesting stories in the loopholes.

It wasn't self-parking. A person did this.

By anonymousJUGGERNAUT • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
This is a video of a person driving into some other people. The car was not "trying to park itself" nor under any other sort of autonomous control. It is speculated in TFA that the driver mistakenly thought the car would automatically stop him from ramming the people he was intentionally accelerating towards. There is further speculation about why it didn't work, including that the car may not have had that functionality installed, and that maybe it did, but even if so the way he was driving (i.e. significant acceleration) would override the pedestrian-avoidance function. Sometimes it seems like there is a faction with an agenda against self-driving cars spreading as much misinformation as possible.

Re:Sure, let's make everything tiered

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Also, wasn't this caused simply by the driver stepping on the accelerator?

That appears to be the case. The reporting on this is very muddled, but at least one article says that the car was not in "self-parking" mode, so the pedestrian detection would not have been active even if this car had it. The driver was in full control of the car, and intentionally accelerated toward the reporters. So the real story here is that some random guy in the Dominican Republic is an idiot.

Re:Sure, let's make everything tiered

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So does this mean Volvo sells a configuration that 1) has a computer control the car in small, enclosed spaces and 2) doesn't have said computer look for obstacles, and specifically not humans?

My wife's car (not a Volvo) has obstacle detection, and "self-park". The obstacle detection only works at low speed, and it will only stop the car if the computer is in control (self-park activated). If a human is in control, it will beep and display the location and distance to the obstacle on the dash display, but it does not override the human. It does not distinguish between a pedestrian and other obstacles, like a tree or trash can.

For the situation in the video, where 1) a human was in control, and 2) the car was moving fairly quickly, the obstacle detection would not have prevented the collision, and likely would not have even been activated.

In my opinion, this is the correct division of blame for this incident:
Idiot driver: 99%
Idiot journalists who didn't get out of the way: 1%
Volvo: 0%

Insurer Won't Pay Out For Security Breach Because of Lax Security

Posted by SoulskillView
chicksdaddy writes: In what may become a trend, an insurance company is denying a claim from a California healthcare provider following the leak of data on more than 32,000 patients. The insurer, Columbia Casualty, charges that Cottage Health System did an inadequate job of protecting patient data. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in California, Columbia alleges that the breach occurred because Cottage and a third party vendor, INSYNC Computer Solution, Inc. failed to follow "minimum required practices," as spelled out in the policy. Among other things, Cottage "stored medical records on a system that was fully accessible to the internet but failed to install encryption or take other security measures to protect patient information from becoming available to anyone who 'surfed' the Internet," the complaint alleges. Disputes like this may become more common, as insurers anxious to get into a cyber insurance market that's growing by about 40% annually use liberally written exclusions to hedge against "known unknowns" like lax IT practices, pre-existing conditions (like compromises) and so on.

Re:Seems reasonable

By jbolden • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Industry handles this in other areas and for that matter security as well by having auditing firms and engaging in a "best practices" audit. "Best practices" doesn't actually mean best practice but rather not doing stupid or dangerous stuff. The audit is how that gets determined.

Re:Seems reasonable

By Rich0 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

everyone accepts that (for a given purpose; bank vaults and nuclear installations get judged differently than houses) there is some level of 'reasonable security', which reflects appropriate caution on the policyholder's part; but is known to be breakable.

I agree with your post. I'll just add that a big problem with IT security is that companies cannot rely on the same level of protection from governments in preventing intrusion.

For example, if I have a safe in my house, the means an attacker would have to penetrate it are going to be limited. Since my township has police and neighbors that wander around, they can only spend so much time there before they're likely to be detected. They can generally only carry in stuff that will fit in the doors and is man-portable, since if they have to cut a hole in the house and lower their equipment using a giant crane somebody is likely to notice. If they want to use explosives they will have to defeat numerous regulatory and border controls designed to prevent criminals from gaining access to them, and of course they will be detected quickly. Some destructive devices like nuclear weapons are theoretically possible to use to crack a safe, but in practice as so tightly controlled that no common thief will have them. If the criminal is detected at any point, the police will respond and will escalate force as necessary - it is extremely unlikely that the intruder will actually be able to defeat the police. If the criminal attempted to bring a platoon of tanks along to support their getaway the US would mobilize its considerable military and destroy them.

On the other hand, if somebody wants to break into my computer over the internet, most likely nobody is going to be looking for their intrusion attempts but me, and if they succeed there will be no immediate response unless I beg for a response from the FBI/etc. An intruder can attack me from a foreign country without ever having to go through a customs control point. They can use the absolute latest technology to pull off their intrusion. Indeed, a foreign military might even sponsor the intrusion using the resources of a major sate and most likely the military of my own state will not do anything to resist them.

The only reason our homes and businesses have physical security is that we have built governments that provide a reasonable assurance of physical security. Sure, we need to make small efforts like locking our doors to sufficiently deter an attacker, but these measures are very inexpensive because taxpayers are spending the necessary billions to build all the other infrastructure.

When it comes to computer security, for various reasons that secure environment does not exist.

Showing once again how worthless insurance is

By smooth wombat • Score: 3 • Thread

Insurance is the biggest scam ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. You pay and pay and pay some more, then, when you need to use it you're given every excuse possible why the coverage you've been paying for doesn't apply.

When one takes into consideration the thousands of dollars each year the average person pours down the drain for insurance, it's no wonder people are going broke. That money could be used for more productive endeavors such as food, housing, education or transportation.

Instead, the money is lost in the ether, used only to enrich a few while the many bleed from a thousand cuts.

Good ...

By gstoddart • Score: 3 • Thread

because Cottage and a third party vendor, INSYNC Computer Solution, Inc. failed to follow "minimum required practices," as spelled out in the policy. Among other things, Cottage "stored medical records on a system that was fully accessible to the internet but failed to install encryption or take other security measures to protect patient information from becoming available to anyone who 'surfed' the Internet," the complaint alleges

And now what we need is criminal/financial penalties for companies who are so blindingly inept at security.

If your business model involves confidential personal information, and you are this incompetent, you have no business being in the business you're in.

This just screams someone was lazy, stupid, indifferent, or cheap ... possibly all of these things.

I can completely see insurance companies saying "hell no we're not paying".

When companies start having actual liability for being that terrible at security, they'll do something. Right now, they can mostly just say "wow, we wish we were sorry".

Re:Seems reasonable

By luis_a_espinal • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The hard part is indeed establishing what the right level of security is and how to evaluate companies against that. At least over here, the exclusions for burglary are pretty clear cut: leaving your door or a window open, and for insuring more valuable stuff there are often extra provisions like requiring "x" star locks and bolt, or a class "y" safe or class "z" alarm system and so on. With IT security, it's not just about what stuff you have installed and what systems you have left open or not; IT security is about people and process, as much or more than it is about systems.

I would disagree with you on this (somewhat). There are well established practices on how to build secure systems, for each major development platform (JEE, .NET, RoR, etc) and also for general decision-making.

Any organization, big or small, needs to be able to come up with scenarios and questions for things that need care, and for which it might need to provide evidence of attention. The important thing is to execute due diligence when it comes to defending your business against attacks, and to demonstrate providing evidence of such due diligence.

If we are in e-business or are bound by PCI, HIPAA and/or SOX compliance, the following questions would come to mind (just an example):

  1. Are we addressing the top 10 risks identified by OWASP?
    1. If so, can we quickly identify how we address them?
    2. What other risks identified by OWASP do we address and how?
  2. How do we address CERT alerts and advisories?
  3. Are we on top of security patches?
  4. Are the underlying systems security patches up to date?
    1. If so, can we quickly provide evidence of this?
  5. If we are bound by HIPAA and/or SOX how do we address security concerns that might stem from these regulations?
    1. How do we quickly provide evidence (evidence of process and assurance)?
  6. Do we have a multi-tiered architecture, or do we run everything co-located?
  7. Are back-end databases on their own machines, in their own subnets outsize of a DMZ?
  8. Are "mid-tier" services on their own machines, separated from databases?
  9. Are they in a DMZ? Are they proxied by a HTTP server in different machines?
  10. Do we have firewalls? If so, do we keep an inventory of their rules?
  11. Are we up to date with patches for network assets (firewalls, SSL appliances, etc)?
  12. Are we still on SSL 3.0 or older versions of TLS?
  13. Do we specifically disable anonymous ciphers?
  14. If we use LDAP, do we disable anonymous binds?
  15. Do we use IPSec to secure all communication channels (even those internally, a requirement for banking in several countries)?
  16. If not why? How do we compensate?
  17. If we are in E-Commerce, how do we demonstrate that we are PCI-compliant?

In my opinion and experience, these questions present the starting point for a framework to determine the right level of security in a system. More should be piled on this list obviously, but anything less would open a system to preventable vulnerabilities.

And that is the thing. The right level of security is the one that helps you deal with preventable vulnerabilities that you, the generic you, should know well in advance, vulnerabilities that are well documented. How costly the prevention is, that is a different topic, and any business will be hard press to justify to an insurer that they forego to deal with a vulnerability because it was too expense.

Answers to those questions and evidence of such would constitute proof that an organization followed reasonable due diligence in establishing the right level of security. Moreover, it will have a much greater chance to disarm an insurer trying to find a way to avoid covering damages.

Notwithstanding the ongoing abuses done in the Insurance business, insurers have rights also. My general health and life insurance is not going to pay up my family if I kill myself while base jumping with blood alcohol levels up the wazoo.

Ask Slashdot: Will Technology Disrupt the Song?

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has gone through dramatic changes over the past thirty years. Virtually everything is different except the structure of the songs we listen to. Distribution methods have long influenced songwriting habits, from records to CDs to radio airplay. So will streaming services, through their business models, incentivize a change to song form itself? Many pop music sensations are already manufactured carefully by the studios, and the shift to digital is providing them with ever more data about what people like to listen to. And don't forget that technology is a now a central part of how such music is created, from auto-tune and electronic beats to the massive amount of processing that goes into getting the exact sound a studio wants.

Learn Something Very Old

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

I dislike these medium.com articles as much as anybody, but there is a whopper of an Easter Egg in it.
It's that picture at the top- bits of a Score written in some kind of Latin. (There are many kinds...)

This comes from the commissioned, by Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, work of one Florentius de Faxolis, a 15th century Priest and Musical Scholar.
He had written a work on Music Theory for the Cardinal, on what makes _Good_ _Music_.
I once read some of the Book, at Berkeley. It emphasized short pieces, repetition, and simple melodies. (I had to have my God-Daughter translate some of the more obscure parts. The Latin in the commentary was difficult.)

It was written in Manuscript form; the only widely distributed printed edition is only five years old.
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674049437

Re:Will Technology Disrupt the Song?

By sound+vision • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Time is 100% relevant to this discussion. Music history is littered with examples of songs that have had their structure and duration altered as a result of outside forces. Donovan had to make a decision when recording "Hurdy Gurdy Man" whether to include all 3 verses he wrote, or 2 verses and a guitar solo, as there wasn't time to have 3 verses plus a solo within 3 minutes. The Byrds had loads of songs where even more verses were cut out to keep them down to a radio-friendly length. While radio stations aren't as anal about running times these days, you still won't hear a 10-minute song on the radio. And there's no disputing that that particular limitation had a deep effect on much of the music of the previous century.

As for how streaming services will affect music - I think a lot of the pressures they put on writers are similar to radio. They work better with shorter pieces of music that are free-standing in the sense that they will work when played between any two other songs. So, less emphasis on things like thematic consistency (both in lyrics and music). Really the only thing I see different in streaming (vs. radio) is that in streaming it's easier to skip a particular song, so the listener is able to shut himself out more from experimentation. He can decide within 15 seconds if a song presents a sound he deems to be acceptable, and whether he wants to skip it. Whereas on the radio, he would be "forced" to listen to the whole track. I don't think this will be much of an issue though, since radio stations as well as streaming services both usually cater to a specific genre anyway - they're certainly not hotbeds of experimentation.

Re:Already has

By sound+vision • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I wouldn't say technology has made music un-singable. Yeah, there are some tracks out there with vocals layered using a sampler. But you've had layered vocals since the dawn of time in the form of duets and harmony singing in larger groups. Effects like chorus and reverb can be pretty much ignored when singing - lots of them are just used to replicate the sound of a particular physical environment. Even autotune is mostly used to correct singers who can't hold a specific pitch, not to extend their vocal range or otherwise make it something that can't be sung. Complaining that you can't make the sound coming out of your mouth sound identical to what you hear on a record is a bit of a ridiculous comparison... it's a bit like saying you can't sing Yesterday unless your voicebox is an exact 1:1 mold of Paul McCartney's.

Re: Will Technology Disrupt the Song?

By RDW • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't think it's an arbitrary cut (at least not until you get to, say, Wagner, where selections really do tend to look like 'bleeding chunks'). In earlier operas, there's usually a pretty clear distinction between recitative and aria, not that much different to the songs in a musical today (or even the singles from a 'concept album'). Of course you can argue that composers with a bit of business sense had an eye on the technology of the time - popular arias were sold individually as sheet music, and later as records - I've seen the 78 described (in the LP era) as 'still the ideal medium for a Puccini-length aria'. Puccini died in 1924, and many of his arias were the early hits of the gramophone. Short-form music has always been popular, though. How many popular folk songs go on for more than 5 minutes? In church music, the choir may tackle longer form works, but the hymns the congregation sings generally aren't much longer than a pop single.

Re:Will Technology Disrupt the Song?

By AthanasiusKircher • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Time is 100% relevant to this discussion. Music history is littered with examples of songs that have had their structure and duration altered as a result of outside forces. [snip] While radio stations aren't as anal about running times these days, you still won't hear a 10-minute song on the radio. And there's no disputing that that particular limitation had a deep effect on much of the music of the previous century.

Yes, and no. You're right that media constraints often try to keep songs shorter. But that doesn't imply that longer songs would be that common, even without those constraints.

Examine most of music history. Whether you're talking about 14th-century French chansons, 16th-century Italian madrigals, 18th-century independent arias, 19th-century German lieder, or 20th-century pop (or Broadway or jazz or...) -- ALL of those repertoires tend to have songs that average about 3-5 minutes in length, with some that might go 6-7 minutes, rare ones that are 7-10 minutes, and almost none more than 10 minutes. Individual movements of larger classical works often follow a similar pattern.

(The main exception are certain kinds of folk ballades or epic ballades which have many, many verses because they tell a long story. But in that case, the actual form of the music takes a "back seat" to the story -- essentially after the 5th or 6th verse, it's kind of a recitation formula which loses its musical impact. A related form is repetitive chanting, where the music becomes less important than the ritualistic experience of repeating the music again and again.)

It's surprising that TFA seems to be written by a songwriting professor, because he seems to understand little about these long-term trends and what they say about basic cognitive patterns that relate to musical structure.

Effective musical composition is really about balancing two things: repetition and novelty. That's it. Seriously. If you write a song that NEVER repeats a refrain or a musical phrase or a short "motive" of a few notes or even a basic rhythmic pattern, you end up with something that just sounds like "random notes." In fact, you have to work quite hard to write something that has no repetitive patterns at all. And it gives a listener a little pleasure in hearing something familiar again -- you "know how that part goes," and that recognition about how it sounds and how the phrase is going to play out is comforting and satisfying.

On the other hand, outside of dance music (again, a pattern going back roughly a thousand years for dance music), too much repetition makes a piece boring. If you keep playing the same few notes over and over again, it gets tedious.

Composers over the centuries have settled on a number of standard forms for putting together songs, because they effectively balance repetition and novelty -- often through varied repetition (or elements where one thing is repeated, like the harmony, but the melody over top of it is varied somewhat).

Lots of songs, for example, use a "song form" of AABA for verses. Why? Because the first time we hear A, it's unfamiliar and new. When we hear A again, it's a welcome repetition -- we get to feel like we "know how this goes." So why not do A a third time? Because it starts to get boring -- so we do a B section that contrasts and often introduces some drama/tension (or changes the feel or dynamics at least in some way). And then, to finish it off, we do a return to A (often with a little variation or a little shorter than the first time) -- which again satisfies because it's familiar... it kind of releases the tension introduced by the contrasting B.

That may be a structure for a verse, but entire songs often have a similar structure: verse-refrain-verse-refrain-BRIDGE-refrain, where each "verse-refrain" unit is kind of like a big "A," the bridge introduces contrast, and then the final return to the refrain (often transformed or at a higher energy level) provides a satisfying conclusion

How To Die On Mars

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: Many space-related projects are currently focusing on Mars. SpaceX wants to build a colony there, NASA is looking into base design, and Mars One is supposedly picking astronauts for a mission. Because of this, we've been reading a lot about how we could live on Mars. An article at Popular Science reminds us of all the easy ways to die there. "Barring any complications with the spacecraft's hardware or any unintended run-ins with space debris, there's still a big killer lurking out in space that can't be easily avoided: radiation. ... [And] with so little atmosphere surrounding Mars, gently landing a large amount of weight on the planet will be tough. Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ... Mars One's plan is to grow crops indoors under artificial lighting. According to the project's website, 80 square meters of space will be dedicated to plant growth within the habitat; the vegetation will be sustained using suspected water in Mars' soil, as well as carbon dioxide produced by the initial four-member crew. However, analysis conducted by MIT researchers last year (PDF) shows that those numbers just don't add up."

Heavy vs. light?

By Obfuscant • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ...

I seem to recall hearing some recent developments in science, some wacko claim by some Italian guy that the acceleration due to gravity was actually independent of the mass of the object. That would indicate that both heavy and light objects would accelerate the same way under the influence of gravity on Mars. What a silly notion, I'm sure the Pope will cure him of his heresy.

TFA has no clue about orbital mechanics

By nomaddamon • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact.

1. Speed gained during decent does not depend on weight of the craft.
When considering aero-braking/parachuting/gliding the only thing that matters is lift/drag generating surface area vs mass

2. Speed gained during decent (from mars gravity) is nominal compared to orbital transfer speed/orbital speed that needs to be zeroed.
Mars orbital speed at 200km is around 2.4km/s, total amount of speed gained from direct decent from 200km to 0km on Mars is around 1.2km/s (with no atmosphere), in real life we would see orbital speed (2.4km's) decreasing on decent due to atmospheric drag (until it reaches terminal velocity, which depends on point 1. but should be less than 1km/s for any viable design).
Prior to achieving stable orbit around mars we have to (aero-)brake from at least 15km/s (orbital transfer). So theoretical 1.2km/s from Mars gravity (which actually doesn't happen) is a really small amount of additional velocity compared to the amount we have to brake anyway.

Playing a few hours of KSP should be mandatory prior to posting articles about space flight on the internet :)

Re:Hobbit

By murdocj • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Yes, sure, please describe how you plan to dig on a planet with sweet fuck all on it? I think you space prophets don't have the imagination it takes to envision the complete and utter lack of everything when you're dreaming about your Mars condos...

Wish I had mod points to mod this parent up. When people think about colonizing Mars, they picture some romantic red desert with cool domed habitats. Really, what you should picture is the absolute harshest environment you can imagine, and then multiple by 10. You are talking about a planet where the atmosphere is close to vacuum, bathed in radiation, with poisonous soil, with no support and no chance of rescue. If anything breaks, you better be able to fix it on the spot. It would be FAR easier to take the most inhospitable spot on earth and colonize it.

I'm all for space exploration, but let's keep our heads on here.

Cool Zombie Science Recipies

By TheRealHocusLocus • Score: 3 • Thread

EVOLUTIONARY DEAD END COOKIES
(serves 7 billion)

INGREDIENTS
two million years of domesticated fire
six millennia of scientific curiosity
two centuries of significant progress in science and engineering
50 years of space exploration
35 years of awareness of KT impact and necessity of planetary defense
one cup irrational fear of radiation and willful disregard for shielding techniques (to taste)
one sprinkle fear of death from any cause not typically experienced by modern suburbans
lump of plain common sense (if you can not find it, substitute two tbsp blind faith and a pound of dogged determination)
tiny dash of optimism

PREPARATION
Carefully combine all ingredients in a large bowl of stars, ensuring that you completely blend the essential characteristics that have allowed these naked apes to overcome natural extremes of climate, predators, disease and boredom. Beat until technological excellence rises to the top. Form into several self-sustainable colonies and multinational corporate enterprises. Place in space oven preheated to a degree of caution and optimism. Bake until spinoffs from the enterprise rise to the occasion with the potential to enhance and expand human civilization with its yummy goodness, colonies in space are able to mobilize quickly in Earth's defense, and Galaxia might be achieved.

SERVING
Throw out all that shit. Engage the collective human mind in sitcoms and 'reality' shows.
Promote artificial issues that represent lack of vision or restraint (terrorism, energy poverty) as if they were natural threats
Let the fucking insurance companies guide all innovation and risk taking.

Promote zombies and head-shot horror in mainstream media as a gateway to cannibalism and violent population reduction.
Popularize cheeky '1001 ways to Die' angles.
Feed the slack.
Characterize folks who try to push through these barriers as 'space nutters'.

For cookies, spray flavored coating over a nutritionally inert Styrofoam shapes and market them as "heart healthy".

Re:Hobbit

By Rei • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I love how these things are all "you simply have to do..." Like one goes out and collects the atmosphere with a butterfly net and splits it with a butcher's knife. Or like just goes and "gets a smelter and a foundry going".

Do these people have any clue how complex these sorts of industrial systems are? They have hundreds of thousands of components, all of which can break, and some of which are massive. The more you scale it down, the less efficient it becomes. And systems engineered on Earth don't just magically work on Mars too. You can't just dump heat into a river or the air, your gravity is significantly lower, and you've got electrostatic dust that clings to everything. And everyone output feedstock you want requires half a dozen or so input feedstocks, not counting all of the parts that can break - and they will break. And not all of these feedstocks can be gotten from the same location.

Let's just pick one little part of what you just wrote. "pass the CO over iron oxide dust" (we'll ignore everything leading up to getting and transporting that CO2). First off, if you literally do just that, you'll get nothing. The reaction needs to be done *hot*. And it can't be just "passing it over", it has to be thoroughly mixed. But then you get ready-to-use steel right? Wrong. Because you don't have "iron oxide dust". First off, you don't have any fine "dust" in mineable quanties, the blowing surface dust is spread over overthing, not accumulated in big pits ready for you to dig up.You at best have sand; at worst, solid rock. Most sands are not going to made of a majority iron oxide (if they have any sizeable quantities at all). Iron ore deposits are places where iron has been *concentrated* by geological processes, it doesn't make up the majority of basalts. And even cementations of iron-rich clay concentrates aren't 100% iron oxide. Whatever you mine (which means mining equipment, which means big, expensive, complex devices), you need to break it up, which means rock crushers, (which mean big, expensive, high wear devices), transport (haulers - more expensive devices), etc. At the mill it's going to go through a range of hoppers, conveyors, etc, all of which will wear and break. In addition to your ore and CO, you need a wide range of fluxing agents to separate out the stuff you don't want and to produce a usable product. The most critical of your fluxing agents is limestone, which on Earth mainly comes from deposits of marine microorganisms. Fat lot of luck finding that on Mars. So you need to mine less common calcium carbonate sources like travertine. More mining equipment. Hey, do you expect to find your travertine ten feet from your iron ore? Yeah, best of luck finding that, you've got to drive! Just hope you don't have to drive hundreds of kilometers, eh? Of course that's just one of a variety of fluxing agents you'll be wanting to add, there are many, for varying purposes. Anyway, once you've got your big molten mess (consuming ridiculous amounts of energy, orders of magnitude more than we've ever fielded offworld), you need to do something with it as you stream it out. Okay, then of course you have your slag skimmers. Hey, how long do you think that parts dripped in a stream of molten iron last? And you need to do something with your slag, so get your equipment to haul it away (after you've cooled it) ready as well. Speaking of cooling, normally we'd use water for that and just let it boil off for cooling, but on Mars it's a precious commodity, so go add more complexity for recapture and cooling! So now we've got a stream of mostly pure steel, but we're not even CLOSE to having usable parts.... (I'll stop here, as I don't want to spend all day on this).

I get it, you have a basic understanding of the chemical formulas for making a couple products. Well, here in the real world, a simple chemical formula is not enough. Real world processes are far more expensive and complex. They don't just pop together by waving a magic wan

Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Patent Troll

Posted by SoulskillView
An anonymous reader writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that Cisco Systems can't skip out of a patent suit against them from patent troll Commil USA. The case reached the Supreme Court because Cisco argued it had a "good faith belief" that the patent they were infringing was invalid. The justices voted 6-2 that such a belief didn't matter if they were indeed infringing. The Supreme Court's opinion is that a company must know of the patent it's infringing, and that their product infringes upon the patent — which, at least, is more than what Commil was pushing.

The case isn't completely over — a $63.7 million verdict in Commil's favor was overturned by an Appeals Court, and now the Supreme Court has sent it back down for re-evaluation after it clarified the rules of infringement. The Appeals Court could still overturn the judgment for some other reason. The good news is that the Supreme Court dedicated a page in their opinion to telling lower courts how to sanction patent trolls and keep them from clogging the courts with ridiculous claims. "[I]t is still necessary and proper to stress that district courts have the authority and responsibility to ensure frivolous cases are dissuaded."

Then let us sue the government!

By backslashdot • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It is absurd that the USPTO has a massive backlog on patent issuance -- by law, it is expected that a patent term is 20 years from the filing date -- however there is an exception to that rule if the patent is not issued within 2 years -- if the patent is not issued within 2 years (due to a USPTO delay) the clock on that 20 years is paused until the patent issues. There are still hundreds of thousands of patents filed on things like HDTV which havent yet issued. It means that HDTV technology will be patent encumbered for the long term future. Nobody has the incentive to fix it. If you wanted to make an open hardware HDTV, you can't do it royalty free because a lot of the HDTV standards essential technologies are still patented and will STAY patented virtually forever thanks to the USPTO patent backlog. Why would any tech companies object to that? They make money off the patents they filed that got issued PLUS the ones that were filed but the USPTO hasnt taken action on them. Think about it this way if Sony filed two patents on HD technology, they get one of them issued fairly quickly within 2 years .. and then by luck or bribery the USPTO action on the second patent is delayed 19 years just as the first patent is expiring .. then because it's the USPTO's fault that the second patent didnt issue .. they get to claim 17 years of additional monopoly on the HD technology. I am not against patents, I am against infinitely long patents .. which are unconstitutional .. yet in practice the USPTO is enabling it. Let's not forget that the constitution only authorizes patent rights if and only if they enable the advancement of the useful arts and sciences (and those too for limited times).

Re:View from a patent holder ...

By gnupun • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

This is a very subjective matter -- what one considers a valid patent, another considers it obvious and invalid patent.

Instead of courts attacking patent holders (trolls), the USPTO should set clear guidelines as to what is patentable and what is not. Once they invalidate patents that have obvious claims, the trolling and racketeering will end. This is not an easy task (determining obvious vs non-obvious claims), but it must be done.

Re:View from a patent holder ...

By penix1 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

To me there is a much easier fix. Remove the assumption that patents reviewed by the USPTO are valid since a vast number have been proven to not be. That will shift the burden of proving validity to the patent holder making it less profitable for patent trolls.

Re:Trolls serve a purpose.

By trout007 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Slavery, monarchy, and arranged marriages were much older institutions that ended. Just because something is old doesn't mean it will survive. Patents and copyrights were easy to control when innovation was slow and capital intensive. Today tools for creation and copying are cheap so innovation is widespread. This will only increase. These monopolies will end because they will not be economical.

Logical ruling

By Lawrence_Bird • Score: 3 • Thread

and sounds based along the same lines of an individual can't ignore a law even if they think it will (at some point) be deemed unconstitutional. So Cisco should have moved to have the patent revoked prior to making use of it rather than infringe and then try after (if at all).