Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest

New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand. They add that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world's growing population. "I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated," says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. "There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world." The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger, if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. "It's true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise," says Jason Hill said. "We've found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system."

Careful With This Logic

By TrollstonButterbeans • Score: 3 • Thread
The same logic saying biofuel is inefficient (requires a lot of land for low energy yield) is the same logic saying meat is inefficient (which is true, meat is energy inefficient) because it requires a large amount of crops for the livestock.

Global price pressures on food is probably a good thing, you have places like Mumbai, India with 35,000 people per square mile. Increasing the quality of life is more than just the price of food. World population isn't a problem, but how it is distributed is what keeps poor nations miserable and cheaper food is solving the symptom of the problem, not the problem.

Biofuels have Always Been Political

By ideonexus • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The reason politicians on both sides of the political aisle push biofuels from corn is because they are pandering to voters in Iowa. A favorite political joke in recent elections is that if Wisconsin held the first primary, we would have major initiatives to make fuel from cheese.

population

By itzly • Score: 3 • Thread

vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world's growing population

The growing population only increases future demand for fuel, adding to the problem.

The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
First time accepted submitter burtosis writes Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). From FiveThirtyEight: "The surveys found broad support for government to spend money on science, but that doesn't mean the public supports the conclusions that scientists draw. The biggest gap between scientists and the public came on issues that may elicit fear: the safety of genetically modified (or GMO) foods (37 percent of the public said GMOs were safe, compared to 88 percent of scientists) and the use of pesticides in agriculture (28 percent of the public said foods grown with pesticides were safe to eat, versus 68 percent of scientists). There was also disagreement over the cause of climate change (50 percent of the public said it is mostly due to human activity, compared to 87 percent of scientists). Here’s a full list, via Pew Research Center, of the scientific issues the survey asked about."

Re:More ambiguous cruft

By umafuckit • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Exactly. Furthermore, there are many ways something can be "genetically modified." e.g. You can modify a tomato to downregulate expression of an existing protein to make the fruit bruise less. You can also modify a planet to secrete insecticide. I'm certain that the former is safe but I'd reserve judgement on the latter depending on what the insecticide was. Furthermore, what if the insecticide is safe for me but it kills bees? GMO is too broad an issue for blanket statements.

Re:whose payroll is the scientist on? It matters

By Jane Q. Public • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

... whose jobs are dependant on a federal grant getting renewed.

A recent GAO report said that $106 BILLION was spent by the US government through 2010 on global warming research. If you figure that was through the end of 2010, that was still 4 years ago, so the number is now much larger.

That number absolutely dwarfs even the imagined amount of money that fossil fuel companies have been accused of spending in campaigns against "climate change". I mean it's easily more than 2 orders of magnitude larger.

Even scientists are human, and they are smart enough to know which side of their bread the butter is on.

Re:pesticides are expensive, so you buy resistant

By jcupitt65 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

That's not always correct. Roundup-ready crops sold by Monsanto (for example) are not resistant to pests, they are resistant to herbicides. They let you spray MORE, not less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate

Re:More ambiguous cruft

By harvey the nerd • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I am an engineer with chemical and biological background. I've seen more than I want to in commercialized conclusions by PhD scientists that were really just hired guns, corporate and academic. In some cases they got unhired because I proved things otherwise and showed long stretches of repeated, highly biased results.

I think paycheck corruption in science today is even worse, like with the CAGW promoters.

Re:More ambiguous cruft

By GrumpySteen • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

No one has genomic techniques to successfully create a protein from whole cloth.

That used to be true, but science marches on...

http://www.princeton.edu/main/...

UK Broadcaster Sky To Launch Mobile Service

Posted by samzenpus in News • View
An anonymous reader sends word that British pay-TV company Sky will launch mobile services next year. UK pay-TV firm Sky is launching a mobile phone service next year in partnership with O2's Spanish parent Telefonica. Sky will use Telefonica UK's wireless network, enabling the satellite broadcaster to offer mobile voice and data services for the first time. It takes Sky into the battle for "quad play", adding mobile to its existing services of internet, landline and TV. Offering all four services is seen as the next big UK growth area for telecoms firms and broadcasters.

It is an attempt to lock in customers

By luvirini • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Basically it is the same as with many other businesses, they will try to leverage their customer relationships to include more areas(so they get more money from the same customer)

Luckily at least currently the competition in the UK market seems to work fairly well so you still have the competition and choice,

There have been some worrying signs of lesser number of providers lately though so the question is how long will the good situation last.

Decent news

By abigsmurf • Score: 3 • Thread
Given the number of mobile providers in the UK has been shrinking fairly dramatically recently, having another big player with big pockets and likely aggressive pricing enter the market is a good thing.

Microsoft Launches Outlook For Android and iOS

Posted by samzenpusView
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS. The former is available (in preview) for download now on Google Play and the latter will arrive on Apple's App Store later today. The pitch is simple: Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer. The app also offers calendar features, attachment integration (with OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud), along with customizable swipes and actions so you can tailor it to how you specifically use email.

Big

By ThorGod • Score: 3 • Thread

Honestly I can't think of this as being anything but big. Companies live and die by outlook email still (enough of them anyway). So many of those executives don't even need a machine past email really...

Wasn't worth the time to download.

By mmell • Score: 3 • Thread
Seriously, there are way better clients out there. I use Touchdown by Nitrodesk for Exhcange for my work email - a truly robust and mature client, that. When Microsoft bought Touchdown, I thought for sure that would be the basis for their Android Outlook client. Sadly, Microsoft Outlook for Android looks very generic (a good thing I suppose - a consistent look and feel with the stock Android email client); that plain vanilla appearance is exquisitely matched by the client's plain vanilla lack of configurability and functionality. This app looks like a programmer's first effort at an email client.

On a positive note, the application did install and run correctly, and appeared to offer support for several popular mail servers (Yahoo and Outlook among others, as well as IMAP and Exchange support).

Re:What's the point?

By bhcompy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Blackberry is all but dead in the corporate space. This leaves a hole that iPhone and Android are filling. Microsoft recognizes that Windows Phone isn't going to fill that gap, so they're finally moving their branding into those environments because of that. I'll assume that advanced features are/will be available that make it worthwhile to deploy the application in a corporate environment over the stock applications. The attachment integration with web based services already gives it a leg up on iPhone's Mail application. Not that I'm expecting it based on what's announced, I'd be very happy if there was a way to give it network folder integration within the network where Exchange is located.

Secure?

By TallGuy • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2... for some perspective...

The iOS Outlook app uses a cloud to download your email (including attachments should you choose to want to see it). This may or may not be what you (or your employer) want. I know I won't be using it.

Will it have the preview pane?

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Will it have a preview pane that will execute all the macros in the email, fetch all the attachments and render them on screen on just a mouse over the subject line? Will it also disobey the native sandboxes in android and introduce "internet zone" "safe zone" "home zone" "vpn zone" "super trustworthy microsoft zone" etc? Great! Just what the world has been waiting for.

FDA Wants To Release Millions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In Florida

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
MikeChino writes In an attempt to curb outbreaks of two devastating tropical diseases in the Florida Keys, the FDA is proposing the release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes into the area. Scientists have bred male mosquitoes with virus gene fragments, so when they mate with the females that bite and spread illness, their offspring will die. This can reduce the mosquito population dramatically, halting the spread of diseases like dengue fever.

Kill them all.

By Karmashock • Score: 3 • Thread

Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, etc.

Here someone will say "but that will damage the fragile web of life and kill mother gaia" or some other drivel. The biosphere is quite stable and can survive the loss of all these species without crashing the food web.

Look at a remote tropical island that doesn't have any of these species. They exist. And guess what... they're fine. Will something that eats these things likely have a harder time finding food? Sure. But if the species isn't already on the brink of extinction then it will adapt. If it was already on that brink then chances are it was doomed in any case. Adaptive species don't get into positions like that.

And beyond that, species go extinct all the time. Always have. New species fill their niches or existing species simply expand to fill vacant niches which tends to cause them to splinter and create new species.

Here again, someone will say "but the rate of extinction has increased!" Yes it has. The biggest reason is human transport and trade. You let loose a rat from the mainland onto some little island and it is probably going to go sickhouse on the local species that likely haven't had to work as hard to survive on their little island. And yes, that rat or other relevant more vital species is likely to eradicate or out compete its rivals. Evolution at work.

Beyond that, we are also destroying habitats. And that is sad... We should try to limit that sort of damage when and where possible. However, the mosquito can go fuck itself sideways with a rusty chainsaw. I have literally zero sympathy for that species. And I am quite comfortable geo engineering the world to the extent that nightmare species like that simply don't exist. Mother nature has come up with some very impressive things over the eons. But she has also birthed some monsters. And I am quite comfortable aborting those little experiments.

Here again, someone will say "but humans are the biggest monsters"... then kill yourself. Shut up and kill yourself. I have zero patience for that drivel.

Kill all the mosquitoes.

Re:What could possibly go wrong?

By captainpanic • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

That's because most physics and chemistry experiments don't breed and multiply.

Neither do infertile mosquitoes; your point?

My point was all about what happens when the mosquitos are not as infertile as planned. Or when another unforeseen event takes place. Obviously, if all the promises by these scientists are true, we have no problem. Unfortunately, promises made through the media (and advertising) are often not as simple as it seems.

They are talking about something that happens literally in their own backyard.

Really, you think there's no products of modern chemistry in your backyard?

If chemical companies are going to dump something into my backyard, I will scream and shout just as loud, if not much louder. The OP said that people only complain about biology, not physics and chemistry. Obviously, once "chemistry" becomes something huge, (e.g. "fracking in your own backyard"), this little claim stops being true. If chemistry comes to your backyard, people WILL complain (and rightly so, even when the experts say that all is well).

They are right to do a risk assessment.

And there have been risk assessments done, by regulators, taking into account the scientific data. Risk assessments are not something for Joe Bloe and his GED who reads NaturalNews and thinks that "GMO mosquitoes" means that they're going to bite his children and spread a zombie plague.

You seem to claim that people should just trust experts. I claim that experts should attempt to inform the public better, thereby earning their trust...

Changing the balance in an ecosystem can have huge consequences.

Contrary to popular belief, changing the bottom of a food chain rarely has major consequences; it's the changing of the top of a food chain that tends to have the biggest consequences. The higher up the food chain you go, not only do you have more of a profound impact on the landscape (look at how radically, say, deer overpopulation transforms a whole ecosystem), but also the more species tend to be generalists rather than specialists. Generalists means the ability to switch more readily between food sources, meaning changes further down have little impact on them. But if you eliminate a top predator from an area, the consequences further down can be profound.

So, rabbits that got released in Australia are the top predator? The Pampas grass in California is the top predator? I can make a long list of invasive species that are not the top predator and still influenced their ecosystem a lot. Grass, as far as I know, is pretty much the bottom of the food chain.

Re:So....

By reve_etrange • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

anti-GMOers' grasp on reality is approximately equal to Scientologists.

The difference is that at a certain level of their 'church' hierarchy, the Scientologists know exactly what is going on - and who they're taking from.

Re:So....

By oodaloop • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If you perturb them, it just re-stabilizes at a new equilibrium point.

Right. But that may takes hundreds of thousands or millions of years and a mass extinction. That new equilibrium point may not be something we want, and it may be completely devoid of humans. A desert is in equilibrium. So is Antarctica. So yes, the environment and the Earth will trudge along and find a stable point, but that doesn't give us free reign to introduce invasive species.

Re:What could possibly go wrong?

By squiggleslash • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Then nothing is different.

Female mosquitoes aren't going to breed more because of this. Part of what makes mosquitoes so unpleasant is that their breeding mechanism is awkward and requires, for example, blood - our blood - to work. Finding a partner to breed with is the last of their worries.

As a result, what this boils down to is:

Status quo: virtually all females will breed with a regular mosquito, lifestyle unchanged.

Changed to: sizable numbers of females will breed with a GMO mosquito instead of a regular mosquito.

If plan works, enough females will go with the GMO, and breed shorter lifespan mosquitoes of their own, resulting in a (probably temporary, alas) reduction in the mosquito population. If the plan fails, either because the altered genes fail to do their job, or because females avoid the GMO mosquitoes somehow, NOTHING IS DIFFERENT.

What's the issue here? What can actually go wrong that's worse than the status quo? What scenario are you seeing that could happen as a result of this particular project? It's not like this is something out of a Michael Crichton novel. "We think we can reduce the mosquito population by releasing this RADIOACTIVE MOSQUITOS into the population! Their UNTESTED RANDOM GENETIC DIFFERENCES will render the entire population dead within the week! Also let's breed the mosquitos with FROGS just beforehand! Nothing could possibly go wrong!"

We know the generic differences. We know what we're releasing are otherwise regular mosquitos. This is not that terrible novel.

As someone who has good medical reasons to fear mosquito bites more than most, I sincerely hope this works. And I applaud them for trying.

Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View
hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.

Re:New CSS is annoying

By rmdingler • Score: 4 • Thread

Why are the headlines so big? Why is there 3 inches of blank space between paragraphs?

Catering to our demographic.?.?

Turnabout is fair play

By RalphSlate • Score: 3 • Thread

If corporate America can offshore the production of its goods to China, displacing US workers, but continuing to keep prices high, then I see this as a fair and just response to that. Cut out the middlemen, it is good for the US consumer, and that's all that matters, right? Just like global trade.

Re:Great!

By Nikker • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
This is merely a waltz for the public. China knows what they are getting into with Alibaba, the ability to take what they have lying around and sidestep having to find someone else sell it for them. Right now China basically manufactures for the world but they sell at small margins so that resellers / contractors sell the goods at a markup to the rest of the world. Alibaba gives a chance to sell directly to the consumer. The Chinese government wants Alibaba to seem strong willed so "The West" builds confidence in buying their stuff. In reality most of what Alibaba sells is leftovers and over runs.

I personally don't think China would leave something this public to chance, most of Alibaba's backers are the who's who of Chinese nationals and Chinese mainland (which the govt controls) makes everything Alibaba sells. It's hard to picture Alibaba being as rogue as they put on.

This will not end well

By jimmydevice • Score: 3 • Thread

It's the same gang fuck attitude we saw in the 80' with the atari 2600. Junk carts, moving mfg to asia, fire everyone .This time, it's not a bunch of shit for brains designers / coders and polyester suit wearing sales droids, it's the chinese elite with unlimited capital and a unbridled desire to be a +one percent.
We are truly fucked. Get ready for food riots.

Re:why does anybody feel safe purchasing from them

By ranton • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Yet, you need to learn the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves.

Alibaba was a woodcutter and not a thief.

Before you get too high and mighty, you might want to remember that Ali Baba stole from those 40 thieves which is what eventually got his brother killed (because of his own greed) and almost got Ali Baba killed as well. So the OP calling Ali Baba a thief is 100% accurate.

Microsoft To Invest In Rogue Android Startup Cyanogen

Posted by samzenpusView
An anonymous reader writes The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft plans to be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing for mobile startup Cyanogen Inc. Neither company is commenting on the plan but last week during a talk in San Francisco, Cyanogen's CEO said the company's goal was to "take Android away from Google." According to Bloomberg: "The talks illustrate how Microsoft is trying to get its applications and services on rival operating systems, which has been a tenet of Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella. Microsoft has in the past complained that Google Inc., which manages Android, has blocked its programs from the operating system."

Re:Not always a good thing.

By complete loony • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Cyanogen mod don't have access to the source code for all of the drivers required to run the hardware. So they have to copy the binaries from the manufacturer.

If the manufacturer doesn't support new versions of android, with newer linux kernels, there's not much they can do.

Re:Not always a good thing.

By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Yes, it seems like most phones are abandoned by cyanogenmod at about the same time the manufacturer does.

The sticking point is drivers. Most SoCs are abandoned at about the same time and virtually none of the drivers are Open, let alone Free. If some influential manufacturer keeps using a particular SoC past the usual sunset, then odds are good that they will release a newer version of Android, and then the drivers can be taken from their image and used to roll a newer version of CM for other devices based on the same SoC.

AFAIK the only GPU with credible OSS drivers is still Mali 400, which is an antique by modern standards. Still works, though. It works well enough to play Q3, IIRC. Most of the rest of the hardware is less well supported than that...

Re:"Rogue"?

By swillden • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I think the idea is that Google, Samsung, Motorola, and HTC have all made themselves into a sort of cartel that don't allow the "open source project" to actually be a source of freedom for consumers. Cyanogen is "rogue" because it bucks that system and restores freedom to the project.

Not really. That may be the perception, but it's not true. Google is quite happy to see CM and similar third party ROMs flourish; this is part of why all Nexus devices are unlockable.

(Disclaimer: I'm a Google engineer, and I work on Android, but I'm not a Google spokesperson and this is my opinion, not an official statement.)

Re:Competition is good

By hughbar • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
As a bit of an eco-nazi, I don't see any of this as 'good', more 'features' every year, none of them particularly useful [do you really want to watch crappy music videos on a tiny screen, judging by my commute people do though] and more phones made/destroyed/in landfill.

Actually cell phones are a nuisance anyway, people can't walk and text or phone and text, so they bump into you. On bicycles, they risk life and limb [theirs and unhappily others] in London by using headphones [though admittedly a walkman or ipod is just as 'good' for this].

Despite what you see above, I love tech, having been in/around it for 40 years, but I really, really believe we need to step back from our current destructive and rather purposeless [except for making cash, of course] product cycles. Fat chance.

Re:Not always a good thing.

By theshowmecanuck • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The issue is, per this post on Cyanogenmod Forums:

CM devs are consumers first. What this means is that they do not divide up devices among other developers, or assign devices like one would at a job. Developers work in their spare time without monetary compensation. Because of this, the developers are free to work on any device they choose to purchase.

Now, what does this mean to you? First off, requesting anywhere in the CM forum, the CM Blog, or the Facebook/Google+/Twitter accounts for device XX to be supported is probably a waste of your time and anybody who reads said request. CyanogenMod does not work on device requests as there is no guaranteeing that a current CM maintainer is even interested in the device. Additionally, its not as simple as 'porting' code, the device trees must be coded from scratch and made to work with the AOSP sourced code and CM enhancements. This takes a large amount of time and effort, especially when the device's OEM fails to release the latest version of Android for it. Second, in hoping a worthy developer sees the post and decides to take up the project... well, that is probably just wishful thinking. Many developers do not like interacting with end users (too much finger pointing between both devs and users or anger directed at the devs for something working other than how the user expects - it happens far too often); because of that, many developers don't frequent the forum (or if they do, they only view the forums for the devices they maintain). The best way to get a device official support is not requesting it from the CM team, but learning how to do it yourself or encouraging a maintainer of an unofficial build to submit their code for review.

So, Cyanogenmod devs will support what strikes their fancy. And if they are no longer interested in a device, it won't be supported any longer. Now if they get financing, maybe this will change as most consumers want some stability and continued support. It is one of the things that could differentiate itself from the phone makers... if they care to. If not, in this regard they won't be any different. And it would be a shame since it is nice to get rid of bloatware.

The vast majority of people will not port their own devices. They either don't have the time or the technical know-how or nether. I will use the stock OS if it isn't available as a stable CM. In fact I do with my P600 Samsung Note. But even if they did, after reading that sticky from the forum, I am less willing to adopt CM and choose to just root the device instead.

LibreOffice Gets a Streamlined Makeover With 4.4 Release

Posted by samzenpus in News • View
TechCurmudgeon sends word that LibreOffice 4.4 has been released. "The Document foundation announced availability of the latest version of LibreOffice on Thursday, which it says is the most beautiful version of the open source productivity suite yet. LibreOffice 4.4 also fixes some compatibility issues with files that are saved in Microsoft's OOXML formats. LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love," Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky, who leads the design team for Libreoffice, said in a statement. LibreOffice 4.4 is currently available for Windows."

No, they did do a little bit of button graphics tw

By JoeCommodore • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

For those that want to look at the pretty pictures:

https://wiki.documentfoundatio...

I think the ability to theme with firefox color themes is intrigueing.

I wish they'd fix the missing functionality

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Having used both, I think LibreOffice Calc sucks compared to Excel. Every time I use it, I come across at least one limitation it has, that Excel does not. Sometimes it's usability-related, but frequently it's just because it doesn't implement a particular feature. It's a death by a thousand paper cuts. I don't think anybody who works on the project realises quite how bad it is, otherwise they would surely have rewritten the whole thing by now, rather than persevering with what's clearly a dead-end codebase.

I used to use Excel very heavily for work. Not only is Excel (2007 or later) easier and quicker to use (and not just because of the ribbons), but there are also things in Excel that are either a pain or simply impossible to achieve in a sensible way in Calc. Using Calc is like if I was used to using Photoshop and then somebody came along and gave me Paint.NET and said it could do everything Photoshop does. It might technically be feasible to achieve all the same outcomes, but it sure as hell isn't going to be as easy, and you're going to be fighting against the software and doing things extra manually half the time. (Not that I have anything against Paint.NET; it's a great bit of software if you're not trying to do everything that Photoshop does. Maybe this was a bad metaphor.)

So, for all Excel's flaws, if I was using spreadsheets for anything remotely serious on anything like a regular basis, I would buy a copy of Excel. But not the 2013 version; what the hell were they thinking with that UI?

For the money I saved with Liber Office

By future assassin • Score: 3 • Thread

we had a hooker and blow party at my store.

Re:Java-Free Like NeoOffice?

By caseih • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

No idea what you're talking about. LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and StarOffice before it are all written in C++. Java is used as a glue between certain components, such as database part. It's also used in some import filters. But it's certainly not required for LO or OO, and hasn't been a requirement ever as far as I know. Guess you haven't ever used LO or OOo.

Re:Download links updated to all OSes

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I'm a lump of dirt with no nervous system, you insensitive clod!

I'm betting that NetBSD will still run on you.

D-Link Routers Vulnerable To DNS Hijacking

Posted by samzenpus in Hardware • View
An anonymous reader writes At least one and likely more D-Link routers as well as those of other manufacturers using the same firmware are vulnerable to remote changing of DNS settings and, effectively, traffic hijacking, a Bulgarian security researcher has discovered. Todor Donev, a member of the Ethical Hacker research team, says that the vulnerability is found in the ZynOS firmware of the device, D-Link's DSL-2740R ADSL modem/wireless router. The firmware in question is implemented in many networking equipment manufactured by D-Link, TP-Link Technologies and ZTE.

Re:Manual config

By wierd_w • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The hardware isnt all that bad most of the time, it's the shitty horrible firmwares they run.

Frequently, it's an old, horribly butchered hackjob of openwrt under there these days. Something unholy running a 2.6 era kernel, and with drivers with more hacked patches attached than a 4th century beggar's clothes.

Getting that old filth flushed out and replaced with something properly maintained is a GOOD thing. The router (hw wise) itself usually isnt all that bad.

Netgear tends to be a bit better, but overpriced. Belkin can go die in a fire though.

Why leave remote administration on?

By ciscoguy01 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Why leave remote administration on?
I would avoid opening the web UI of any home router on the WAN side.
It's mostly unnecessary and a needless security exposure.

Re:Every day

By FatdogHaiku • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
When a binary and an analog love each other, that's all that matters.
How they compile in the privacy of their home is no ones business.
And soon you may hear the pitter patter of little dependencies...

Spire Plans To Use Tiny Satellites For More Accurate Weather Forecasts

Posted by timothy in Science • View
Zothecula writes Weather forecasting is a notoriously inexact science. According to San Francisco-based tech startup Spire, this is partially because there are currently less than 20 satellites responsible for gathering all of the world's weather data – what's more, some of the older ones are using outdated technology. Spire's solution? Establish a linked network of over 100 shoebox-sized CubeSats, that will use GPS technology to gather 100 times the amount of weather data than is currently possible. The first 20 of those satellites are scheduled to launch later this year.

I work in Earth-observing satellite ground systems

By idontgno • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The last I looked, the state of remote-sensing algorithms for limb profiling (i.e., looking through the layer of the Earth's atmosphere over the limb of the planet from your orbital position) is something between bad and "are you kidding?".

I wonder what kind of secret sauce these Young Turks have that NASA and NOAA doesn't?

A sense of scale

By RightwingNutjob • Score: 3 • Thread
is missing in this notion. Meaningful Earth observation from space is done with cameras that take up more physical space than a cubesat. Yeah, you can squeeze several high definition cameras into a cubesat, but the moment you realize that you need something other than visible band, temperture control on the ccds, and the power-aperture to beam that stuff down to earth in a meaningful timeframe, you've built 1500lb worth of overhead around your tiny little cubesat and you're back in GOES and NPP land.

Re:I work in Earth-observing satellite ground syst

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The last I looked, the state of remote-sensing algorithms for limb profiling is something between bad and "are you kidding?".

But they are not doing much "remote sensing". All they are doing is recording when a GPS signal is received. That's it. That shouldn't be too hard. The delay between when the GPS should have been received, and was actually received, will tell them the index of refraction of the atmospheric cord it passed through, and from that, a ground computer can calculate the humidity, temperature, and pressure.

Re:A sense of scale

By mspohr • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

OMG! Quick somebody tell these people that the experts here at /. have decided that they are making a big mistake. I'm sure they will be grateful for all of the expert opinions of our hive mind since it will save them from making a BIG MISTAKE.
(OTOH, you could RTFA.)

FSF-Endorsed Libreboot X200 Laptop Comes With Intel's AMT Removed

Posted by timothy in Hardware • View
gnujoshua (540710) writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced its endorsement of the Libreboot X200, a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad X200 sold by Gluglug. The laptop ships with 100% free software and firmware, including the FSF's endorsed Trisquel GNU/Linux and Libreboot. One of the biggest challenges overcome in achieving FSF's Respects Your Freedom certification was the complete removal of Intel's ME and AMT firmware. The AMT is a controversial proprietary backdoor technology that allows remote access to a machine even when it is powered off. Quoting from the press release: "The ME and its extension, AMT, are serious security issues on modern Intel hardware and one of the main obstacles preventing most Intel based systems from being liberated by users. On most systems, it is extremely difficult to remove, and nearly impossible to replace. Libreboot X200 is the first system where it has actually been removed, permanently," said Gluglug Founder and CEO, Francis Rowe."

Re:The year of Linux?

By CODiNE • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Let's not forget back in the day when Linux and the GPL was "communist".

Re:Since when is AMT controversial?

By halivar • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Oh, I can see it now. Some Linux enthusiast (wait, no, a GNU/Linux enthusiast; run-of-the-mill Linux enthusiasts are too corrupted by pragmatism) poring over hundreds of giant sheets of chip diagrams, nodding sagely at incomprehensible engineering spaghetti he doesn't even understand. "Hmmm... yes... this all seems to be in order..."

Re:Since when is AMT controversial?

By fuzzyfuzzyfungus • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
A mixture of both. The AMT system includes a dedicated ARC cpu, which runs its own OS and functions independently of the host to a large degree; but also can see into, and sometimes make use of, some of the hardware visible to the host system(details depend on version). For communication, for instance, the AMT system has access to the wired NIC below the OS's view(wireless NICs are more complex, I think AMT can do a direct connection to a trusted AP if configured to do so; but can't do VPN without piggybacking on the host OS), and it also has enough hooks into the various peripherals that it can do remote KVM in hardware, by emulating HID devices and snooping the framebuffer, mount an .iso as though it were a connected SATA device, and access some storage and memory locations that are also accessible to the host OS or programs, in order to gather data on system health, software versions, etc.

I'm not exactly sure how the BIOS/UEFI flash and the flash that stores the AMT firmware are related to one another. On computers with AMT, a 'bios update' will often flash both; but I don't know if that's because they are just different areas of the same SPI flash chip, or whether it's just a convenience bundling of two nearly unrelated updaters.

Re:Since when is AMT controversial?

By PopeRatzo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

At some point, you have to start trusting people/organizations/companies.

What you're really saying is, "You don't have a choice, so just suck it up, princess. Privacy is so 20th century."

No, you don't have to trust people/organizations/companies who have not earned your trust. You are the one paying. Use the power you have as a consumer. Weaponize your purchasing power.

And always, always reserve the right to just say "Nope, I don't need it, I don't want it, and I'll find another way."

I am actually excited about Intel AMT

By iamacat • Score: 3 • Thread

If I understand it correctly, I would be able to power on, fix or reimage my home desktops/laptops while at work or away on a trip. Or fix my moms crashed computer from half way around the globe. And, since all communication is authenticated with a TLS certificate, there is little danger of other taking over my hardware.

I understand people's right to be paranoid or want 100% open systems, and hope that appropriate choices remain available. But even for most Linux kernel developers a failsafe way to repair an unbootable system from remote is a good thing.

'Anonymized' Credit Card Data Not So Anonymous, MIT Study Shows

Posted by timothy in YRO • View
schwit1 writes Scientists showed they can identify you with more than 90 percent accuracy by looking at just four purchases, three if the price is included — and this is after companies "anonymized" the transaction records, saying they wiped away names and other personal details. The study out of MIT, published Thursday in the journal Science, examined three months of credit card records for 1.1 million people. "We are showing that the privacy we are told that we have isn't real," study co-author Alex "Sandy" Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an email.

This is like...

By Ichijo • Score: 3 • Thread

...using a fingerprint database to show that cash isn't anonymous.

Why even 3?

By Wycliffe • Score: 3 • Thread

The article says it can identify someone in as few as 3 transactions.
But they aren't really identifying them, they are just showing that no other person hit the same exact set of shops.
Well, they also mention that they get a datestamp with the transaction so assuming that datestamp has minutes
or seconds then it should only take 1 transaction or 2 at the most. That being said, you really haven't identified
this person as you don't know who they are in the real world just that they have a unique shopping pattern as
everyone does.

Re:"the privacy we are told that we have isn't rea

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I always thought it was anonymized through aggregation.

Aggregation is not very useful. Much more useful is being able to look for relationships between purchases by the same user. Years ago department stores would have an "accessories" section. Then Wal-Mart crunched their data, and figured out that people don't shop for accessories randomly. They buy a belt when they are buying pants. They buy a necktie when they are buying shirts. So today, the belts are placed by the pants, and the neckties are placed by the shirts. This seems kind of obvious in hindsight, but it took data analysis to make it happen.

If a woman stops buying condoms and starts buying vitamin supplements, that means you should showing her popup ads for maternity clothes. Nine months later, you can show her a different brand of condom, with ads than emphasize reliability.

Meaning of "Anonymous"

By eepok • Score: 3 • Thread

I don't know about you, but I think it's pretty fair to say that a record without any information directly identifying the subject is "anonymous".

The ability to complete an analysis of multiple records and data sources thereby reasonable guess (90% accuracy) of who the subject might be is insufficient to remove the title of anonymous.

Re:Regular users only

By mjwx • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Not sure what you're talking about. My credit card has no fees

It has no fees you know about... And banks want to keep it that way. When you pay for something by credit card, the merchant pays 3% or more for accepting the card. This means they have to pass the cost onto you in the form of higher prices.

You didn't think the bank gave you free money did you?

Its Machiavellian in its brilliance, you're robbing yourself of 3% in order to give yourself 1% and you're so enamoured with it, you're trying to do this as much as possible.

VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video)

Posted by timothy in Hardware • View
You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)

Cred?

By cdrudge • Score: 3 • Thread

and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred

Yeah. Good luck with that salvage job.

Re:Cred?

By maliqua • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

makerbot is more than dead to me, if I ever hear anyone considering buying a 3d printer that's the only advice i give them is "No matter what you do, do not buy a makerbot"

I hope everyone else here is doing the same they should not be allowed a second chance or any form of forgiveness

Embedded fucking videos???

By pete6677 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Embedded fucking videos??? With autoplay??? FUCK YOU Slashdot! My how far you have fallen. News for nerds my ass.

US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One

Posted by timothy in YRO • View
Tyketto writes Following up on a previous story about its replacement, the US Air Force has selected the Boeing 747-8 to replace the aging Presidential fleet of two VC-25s, which are converted B747-200s. With the only other suitable aircraft being the Airbus A380, the USAF cited Boeing's 50-year history of building presidential aircraft as their reason to skip competition and opt directly for the aircraft, which due to dwindling sales and prospects, may be the last 747s to be produced.

Re:track record

By ihtoit • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

the Bentley Jubilee 2002 was built and furnished entirely in England. The engine is a Rolls Royce TT 6.75l V8 purpose-built in Derby. Coachwork and chassis assembled by hand in Crewe, and the furniture by Hield in West Yorkshire. It might be *owned* by Volkswagen but the manufacturing is entirely still British labour.

Re: track record

By fustakrakich • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

A four engine plane will land on no engines.

Re:track record

By Solandri • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If the two-engine planes are such a risk, how the hell have they got air safety certificates?

Because the certification for twin-engine planes only looks at engine reliability and environmental factors like rain and hail. It doesn't consider being shot at with missiles and small arms fire, which is a required safety criteria for Air Force One.

Why not a C17

By rossdee • Score: 3 • Thread

Why not convert a C17 - its more manoueverable, and can use smaller airfields

Re:track record

By shutdown -p now • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The Soviet Union adopted with the AK-74 in 1974

He was speaking about AK-74M, which was adopted in early 1990s.

But anyway, even if you look at AK-74, it was already in many ways outdated back when it was introduced. Only two locking lugs, and not in a barrel extension, craptastic safety, slow iron sights, a large open gap in the receiver when bolt is closed permitting dust and dirt in, very inconvenient optics quick mount on the side rail (on AK-74M with its folding stock, if you use the rail, you can't fold the stock - WTF?) etc. Also pretty heavy in its basic configuration, and even heavier with optics because of that aforementioned side rail necessitating heavy mounts.

A good example of a modern AK-derived design is SIG SG 550. Same basic action, but it uses modern layout, modern ergonomics, and is much more accurate and flexible while being every bit as reliable.

and most Eastern European and former Soviet Republics use it today.

Most Soviet republics - true, but which of them are "allies"?

Most Eastern European states - not really true anymore, and wasn't really true even when USSR was still there. The only two I can think of that still use AK chambered in 5.45 round are Bulgaria and Romania (and for Romania it's not AK-74, but their own independently developed variant), and both are looking at options to migrate to, generally in 5.56 for NATO conformance. Poland uses the 5.56 Beryl, also not derived from AK-74, and significantly improved compared to the latter. All ex-Yugoslavian states either still use the original AK chambered in 7.62, or else have migrated to something in 5.56 (e.g. FN F2000 for Slovenia or VHS in Croatia). Czechs and Slovaks have both used their indigenous Vz.58 until recently, and are now switching to CZ-805. Hungarians use their own FEG AK variant, also in 7.62. Albanians use the original AKM. Did I forget anyone?

The only nation states I know of that still use the old AK-47 are in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia (including, I think, India). The big advantage of the AK-47 is that it is cheap enough to hand out like candy to guerrilla fighters, and it's reliable enough to still work after years of little to no maintenance (though it's effectiveness drops quite a lot when doing so).

Well, you kinda lump them together - it's not like there are a few nations in Middle East or Africa, and a great many of them use AK. But, as noted, in Europe, you're looking at least at Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania and Hungary. And if you look at who else uses AK-derived guns chambered in 7.62x39, you'll have to also add Czech Republic and Slovakia (tho not for long) and Finland.

FWIW, I don't see the point of differentiation. AK-74 is only marginally different from AKM in matters other than caliber (and muzzle brake, but that can be easily retrofitted). All ergos are the same, reliability is the same, and all deficiencies are also the same.

In any case, I don't see why anyone in a sane mind would adopt AK-74M as a new service rifle in 2015. There are far better options available for anyone not sorely short on cash and not running a guerrilla army.

I mean, sure, you could take AK-74 and modernize it - make the receiver cover non-detachable so that a rail can be put on top, replace handguards with rails or something else allowing different mounts, replace leaf sight with a peep, replace the safety with a switch that can be manipulated by a thumb, replace the stock with folding and length-adjustable one that also has a cheek riser for better weld.

Russians did just that in their own modernization program, and the result is now known as AK-12 and is undergoing trials. Though it has a bunch of other changes (like lightened bolt) that are suspect wrt reliability, especially given the results of the trials so far.

But then again, unless you're short on cash, you could just get SG 551, which was designed with all those things in mind from ground up.

Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

Posted by timothy in Management • View
New submitter rsanford, apropos of today's FCC announcement about what is officially consided "broadband" speed by that agency, asks In the early and middle 90's I recall spending countless hours on IRC 'Trout-slapping' people in #hottub and engaging in channel wars. The people from Europe were always complaining about how slow their internet was and there was no choice. This was odd to me, who at the time had 3 local ISPs to choose from, all offering the fastest modem connections at the time, while living in rural America 60 miles away from the nearest city with 1,000 or more people. Was that the reality back then? If so, what changed, and when?

Re:Government Intervention

By circletimessquare • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

it's not government mandated, it's a *natural* monopoly

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N...

things like fire, police, healthcare, powerplants: there is no market for such things. for a number of reasons. with broadband it's because of high barrier to entry: no one has the billions to gamble on entering the market with uncertain payout

oh google does. so go ahead and wait 40 years until they get to your city

but if you make believe (like the usa does) that things like broadband and healthcare are free markets, you just wind up with grossly expensive, inefficient jokes

what we need is universal healthcare, and government owned fiber

i hear it already: "oh you evil socialist statist..." *drool, snort*

i don't like the government. but unlike some people, i recognize that on the topic of *natural* monopolies, government control is the least horrible situation, and certainly better than the usa's joke of healthcare system or approach to broadband

capitalism is a wonderful tool. i love capitalism

for example: governments should own all fiber, and then lease it to private companies to deliver services. any private company can lease to provide any service. that's wonderful capitalism, embraced in a manner of fair competition. without the bullshit notion they own the fiber too, and there's "competition". no there isn't. and there never will be. and no government policy is to blame. it's the simple nature of the sector fo the economy: too high of a cost to enter. no one else can afford to roll out the fiber

capitalism is not a fucking religion, and it has its limits

natural monopolies represent those limits

if you don't understand what a natural monopoly is, stop talking about economics, you don't understand the topic

government is not your enemy, rent seeking parasites CORRUPTING your government are. you want to remove the corruption and have your government work for you. not weaken and remove government, thereby allowing the monopolists to rape you even more

there's just a certain kind of person in the world that think government is the problem no matter what. and on topics where the real problem is something else: natural monopolies, they simply enable the monopolists by misdirecting their anger at the wrong target (government). propaganda funded by the plutocrats are happy to feed this error, because indeed, with a weakened government, they get to rape you even more without even the pesky need to buy off congresscritters and pass warped regulations at all

restricted, did not eliminate franchises. Most ppl

By raymorris • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The 2007 action put some limits on local (but not state) franchising practices. It did NOT eliminate them. In fact, most of the US population still lives in areas with restricted franchises. The FCC said that local franchising authorities could not be "unreasonable" in their demands. More info:

https://www.wilmerhale.com/pag...

Re: Government Intervention

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Sweden is about the same size as California, but has only 10 million people vs. 40 million in California.

So how come broadband access is better and cheaper in both the cities and rural areas in Sweden compared to California?

Re: Government Intervention

By Computershack • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I have 75/75 for $60 in metro LA. I don't find that unreasonable.

I have 76/20 truly unlimited for $34 a month in my small 11,000 popultation town in rural East Yorkshire, England. I find that more reasonable.

Re:Government Intervention

By circletimessquare • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The threat of competition prevents long term monopolies from persisting.

explain how that works. you've just made a statement of unsupported belief

i've explained to you reality, straightforward: a high cost of entry into the market prevents competition. high cost alone

you have opposed my description of reality. that's fine, you don't have to agrere with me

but you have to be able to explain how or why i am wrong. you have not done that

"go read my religious literature" is not an argument

if you can't make your case in plain language, that says something doesn't it?

an unsupported faith in an unsupported statement is trendy nonsense