the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Nintendo Hits Snooze On Sleep-Tracking Device

Posted by yaelkView on SlashDotShareable Link
In October 2014, Nintendo announced a plan to develop a sleep-tracking app and device. This device would use microwave sensors to monitor important sleep data throughout the night, to optimize users' slumber time and encourage a healthier rest cycle. Now, Nintendo has announced that the sleep app has been put to sleep indefinitely; the company is instead focusing on its new mobile games and next-generation console.

Some Reversible USB-C Cables/Adapters Could Cause Irreversible Damage

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Three Decembers ago I lauded the impending death of the trapezoid. Celebration of the rectangle might be premature however, because in the rush-to-market an appalling number of chargers, cables and legacy adapters have been discovered to be non-compliant. There have been performance issues with bad USB implementation all along, but now — with improved conductors USB-C offers to negotiate up to 3A in addition the 900ma base, so use of a non-compliant adapter may result in damage. Google engineer and hero Benson Leung has been waging a one-man compliance campaign of Amazon reviews to warn of dodgy devices and praise the good. Reddit user bmcclure937 offers a spreadsheet summary of the reviews. It's a jungle out there, don't get fried.

Re:Essentially a dupe from 3 months ago

By ArtForz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The missing wires weren't the really bad part - the result of that would've "merely" been that it wouldn't work as a USB3 SuperSpeed cable and only connect in USB2 High Speed mode.
What really set that one apart was that it had VCC and GND swapped on one end.

Inexpensive reliable testers

By John Allsup • Score: 3 • Thread

We need inexpensive reliable testers for usb cables. Basically a box where you plug the cables in and it does the various electrical tests.

Re:Stupid design

By bondsbw • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Some Reversible USB-C Cables/Adapters Could Cause Irreversible Damage

The irony that USB is finally reversible, yet the damage it causes is not...

Re:Inexpensive reliable testers

By SeaFox • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We need inexpensive reliable testers for usb cables. Basically a box where you plug the cables in and it does the various electrical tests.

Isn't the whole point of standard that the consumer should know that two devices are equitable in abilities?
The problem here is the owner of the USB 3.0 spec is not releasing their legal hounds on companies manufacturing "USB 3.0" cables that don't truly support the standard.

Cables not the only thing non-compliant, IMO....

By mark-t • Score: 3 • Thread

If you plug in a non-compliant usb-c cable into a device's usb port, a compliant device should be able to recognize it as such and simply refuse to operate. It should categorically *NOT* cause the device to cease to operate.

The fact that this guy apparently shorted a $1000 computer because of a badly made $10 cable IMO shows just as much of a flaw in the computer as it does in the cable.

All that the computer needed to have on the port was a breaker that would trip if or when the expected limits were exceeded and it would have been fine.

Scareware Signed With Apple Cert Targets OS X Machines

Posted by yaelkView on SlashDotShareable Link
msm1267 writes: A unique scareware campaign targeting Mac OS X machines has been discovered, and it's likely the developer behind the malware has been at it a while since the installer that drops the scareware is signed with a legitimate Apple developer certificate.

"Sadly, this particular developer certificate (assigned to a Maksim Noskov) has been used for probably two years in similar attacks," said Johannes Ullrich, dean of research of the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, which on Thursday publicly disclosed the campaign. "So far, it apparently hasn't been revoked by Apple."

Flash again.

By ColdWetDog • Score: 3 • Thread

Turns out that it does install an updated version of Flash. Now that is scareware.

Block all adverts...

By Lumpy • Score: 3 • Thread

Use a good browser plugin or some good backend rules, but block every single advert out there. That stops the "OHHH YOU GOTTA INSTALL THIS" vector that fools clueless visitors into downloading and running the trojan.

Good people install adblocking on every single computer they touch. Bad people allow ad's from websites.

Dear web admins.... WAHH. If you cant vet and host your ads yourself to make sure they are safe, you dont DESERVE your ad's to make it through.

Foxconn Set To Acquire Sharp Corporation For $5.6 Billion

Posted by yaelkView on SlashDotShareable Link
Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturing/assembly company, is reported to be finalizing a deal to acquire Sharp Corporation for $5.6 billion, with the beleaguered company having finally rejected a proposed government rescue package in favor of the deal. Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd, was brought to media attention in 2010, when the company installed suicide nets to stop the high number of employee suicides at company dorms. Although it seems out of the ordinary that one of the world's few producers of LCD panels is negotiating with Foxconn, the deal is expected to go through, making it one of the biggest foreign takeovers of a Japanese company.

Bitcoin Capitalist Opens Bounty For New Block Cipher

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Bitcoin capitalist Mircea Popescu has opened a contest to find a new block cipher and is offering a 10 Bitcoin reward for a winning submission. The eccentric Popescu was previously featured on Slashdot for saving OpenBSD from their electric bill in their time of need.


By OverlordQ • Score: 3 • Thread

Can somebody translate that blog post to English from 'Self-aggrandizing twatspeak' for me? /fp


By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

He sounds Romainian.

Or Icebergian.

Re: What?

By WarJolt • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

All you need to know if that there is no way for all the machines on the bitcoin network to know when one event happens before another. This is important for financial transactions. The block cipher is a proof of work function which takes some effort to compute. Since this takes a predictable amount of time to compute it can be used to establish a sense of global time and order events. It doesn't always work right away, but eventually if someone tries to double spend a bitcoin one transaction will win out. This establish the trust necessary for bitcoin to work.

The problem is bitcoin can potentially be manipulated if you get a little bit less than 1/2 of the total network computational capacity.

I have been looking at the proof of work functions that are memory hard proof of work functions because they are more expensive financially to compute. There are tons of ASICs computing those hashes right now used in bitcoin which are far cheaper than any PC, but memory in an ASIC is always expensive. You get less of an advantage.

I think momentum proof of work function has potential, but I haven't seen any crypto-currencies use it yet. Let me know if you find one.

There definitely is a potential for safer currencies than bitcoin

Financial Advisers Disrupted By AI

Posted by yaelkView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 writes: Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that's one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant. Robo-advisers, which use computer programs to provide investment advice online, typically charge less than half the fees of traditional brokerages, which cost at least 1 percent of assets under management.

Re:And who trusts Financial "Advisors"?

By ardmhacha • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Investing in a diversified selection of index funds and staying the course will beat that vast majority of professional advisers. And the few advisers that will beat the market are not identifiable ahead of time.


By h4ck7h3p14n37 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't understand why the term financial advisor is used when they are just salesmen. What advice do they provide other than, "you should definitely buy our products", or maybe, "I would advise you against closing your account with us"?

I have one retirement account that's managed and another where I self-direct the investments. My self-directed account has been out-performing the one where I have an "advisor". I know I would never in a million years go to him for financial advice and am just about ready to close that particular account.

Re:And who trusts Financial "Advisors"?

By ark1 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
You are confusing Financial Advisors with Fund Managers.Retail Financial Advisors you get to meet for "free" at your local financial institutions are pretty much McDonald workers of financial world in terms of hierarchy. Their job is to sell you whatever makes the most money/commission to the institution and themselves while pretending to care about your goals. They usually have no or low qualifications and follow simple scripts. Fund managers are actually the one managing (ie investing) money.

Re:And who trusts Financial "Advisors"?

By PopeRatzo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

To get really rich, you must understand the financial market. but you also need an advantage by having a special insight in the market and most importantly politics (as politics define the rules of the game).

I am reminded of the line from a W.C. Fields movie. A guy sits down to play cards with him and asks, "Is this a game of chance?"

Fields answers, "Not the way I play it."

The oncoming destruction

By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 3 • Thread

The oncoming destruction of the market will be the fault of shit like this and high-frequency trading run amuck.

A few numbers go "boop" and that triggers some insane sell-off, which cascades into further panic selling which triggers some out-of-band responses which lead to more extreme selling and/or buying...the much-vaunted "financial circuit breakers" fail or are overridden in a desperate attempt to salvage what little is left and by the time it's over the entire stock market will be worth the price of a used Buick.

You wake up to find out your retirement account will barely buy you lunch at McDonalds, but thankfully the hedge fund managers are still okay.

The Performance of Ubuntu Linux Over the Past 10 Years

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Tests were carried out at Phoronix of all Ubuntu Long-Term Support releases from the 6.06 "Dapper Drake" release to 16.04 "Xenial Xerus," looking at the long-term performance of (Ubuntu) Linux using a dual-socket AMD Opteron server. Their benchmarks of Ubuntu's LTS releases over 10 years found that the Radeon graphics performance improved substantially, the disk performance was similar while taking into account the switch from EXT3 to EXT4, and that the CPU performance had overall improved for many workloads thanks to the continued evolution of the GCC compiler.

Re:But... how?

By creimer • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Ever see a chicken with its head chopped off? It runs faster.

Re:Meaningless stats

By ausekilis • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The only thing that matters is how snappy the GUI is, try measuring framerates of the change from 2D Gnome to 3D Unity. Also compare open source drivers vs proprietary at rendering the GUI. Users don't care about how many bits a hard drive is transferring per second as they will never notice.

Users do care about data rates to/from a hard drive. Ever install a huge game? Ever try to play a movie from disk while uploading photos to picasa? What about backing up data by copying between hard drives?

I can all but guarantee there will be complaints about how long it takes to copy 20GB of crap between drives. Or the fact that the video is stuttering as thousands of photos are being accessed for upload. You'll probably hear "This computer is really slow" when it's actually the hard drive as a bottleneck. Better throughput and smarter accessing/layout aren't things a typical consumer will talk about, but they certainly will appreciate.

Linux Mint

By Sir_Eptishous • Score: 3 • Thread

Re: Don't tell anyone

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

There may be lots of Linux distros, but they fall into 3 categories:

1) Fedora-derived distros
2) Debian-derived distros
3) Niche distros

We don't really see fragmentation, but rather specialization.

The Fedora- and Debian-based distros see the most use. Even they aren't very different these days, especially the Debian versions that use systemd.

So the fragmentation you're talking about just doesn't exist any more. It's not 1996.

Re: And a big reduction in manageability...

By F.Ultra • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Just to show an example, look what I found in the MediaTomb unit file:

ExecStart=/usr/bin/mediatomb -d -u $MT_USER -g $MT_GROUP -P /run/ -l $MT_LOGFILE -m $MT_HOME -f $MT_CFGDIR -p $MT_PORT -e $MT_INTERFACE

That "-l" there means that MediaTomb will not log to stdout/stderr/syslog but that it instead logs to it's own logfile in $MT_LOGFILE so no wonder one will never ever find MediaTomb logs in the journal, they are never sent there by the daemon in the first place.

Intel Says Chips To Become Slower But More Energy Efficient

Posted by yaelkView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: William Holt, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, has said at a conference that chips will become slower after industry re-tools for new technologies such as spintronics and tunneling transistors. "The best pure technology improvements we can make will bring improvements in power consumption but will reduce speed." If true, it's not just the end of Moore's Law, but a rolling back of the progress it made over the last fifty years.

With AMD out of the way Intel can F*** us.

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 3 • Thread

With AMD out of the way Intel can F*** us.

First they cut the pci-e lanes down on a $300-$350+ chip forcing you to pay upped to $350-$400 but then you need jump to $500-$600 to get the same as last gen + a small clock speed boost. This on the server / high workstation side.

On the desktop side they are still on DMI (Now at pci-e 3.0) + 16 PCI-e 3.0 why no QPI to chip set like AMD's HTX?

This makes sense if gov is the customer

By xxxJonBoyxxx • Score: 3 • Thread

Computer salesperson: "Hey, it's time to replace your old machines."
Gov buyer: "Fuck off, they work just fine."
Computer salesperson: "But these shiny new Intel models SAVE ENERGY."
Gov buyer: "On second though we've got plenty of taxpayer money to blow on 'energy efficiency' projects. Why don't ya' put us down for half million new laptops and two million of those tablet thingies so people can plug them in next to their desktops - I mean 'replace their energy-sucking desktops' - and see if you can't find a new boat for 'my nephew' and a trip to the Caribbean for 'my travel agent' while you're at it."

Re:Intel's trolling us

By Gr8Apes • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Intel's been shooting itself in the foot with power vs performance for years. AMD was better, Intel reversed course and then beat AMD down. Now Intel's gunning for ARM because ARM is becoming a real threat to their core business. How many phones have Intel chips? How many tablets? Notebooks are moving towards ARM as well. Imagine an ARM based server farm. ARM is moving up the food chain into Intel's core business, and doing so with a class of processors Intel can't match.

Re:Intel's trolling us

By MachineShedFred • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Except that Intel has been a licensor of ARM for a very long time, so even if there was some magical shift to ARM in non-mobile ultra-low-voltage devices, Intel would still be able to apply what they know about advancing the state of the art.

Don't worry about Intel, they'll be just fine.

Did I just hear Apple giggle in the background?

By Overzeetop • Score: 3 • Thread

The cortex-A series of chips appears to be catching Intel CISC in some of the raw compute numbers on a per-core basis. Will this possibly rekindle the RISC vs CISC battles of the 90s?

Amazon's Thin Helvetica Syndrome: Font Anorexia vs. Kindle Readability

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
David Rothman writes: The Thin Helvetica Syndrome arises from the latest Kindle upgrade and has made e-books less readable for some. In the past, e-book-lovers who needed more perceived-contrast between text and background could find at least partial relief in Helvetica because the font was heavy by Kindle standards. But now some users complain that the 5.7.2 upgrade actually made Helvetica thinner. Of course, the real cure would be an all-text bold option for people who need it, or even a way to adjust font weight, a feature of Kobo devices. But Amazon stubbornly keeps ignoring user pleas even though the cost of adding either feature would be minimal. Isn't this supposed to be a customer-centric company?

Probably a result of dev/designer demographics...

By jeffb (2.718) • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I think we all see that there's a big push toward The New Shiny for implementing Web UIs, and a push toward hiring young frontier-chasers in place of older developers and designers who are perhaps more attached to older, less cutting-edge technologies.

Well, surprise -- younger people IN GENERAL have an easier time focusing on close targets, perceiving low-contrast images, and dealing with generally lower light levels.

Now, most of the designers I've worked with at least pay lip service to accessibility, universal design, and maybe even special-needs users. But when they're showing mockups to decision-makers, they still seem to push for what's trendy -- and, hey, the twenty- and thirty-somethings in the room have no trouble reading it, and if the forty- and fifty-somethings do, they sure aren't going to call further attention to their "differently youthful" status by complaining about it.

As a result, we see today's visual design. If we squint enough.

Re:Trend towards illegibility

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Join the fight!


By idontgno • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"Of course our customers are satisfied! What makes you think they have any choice in the matter?"

Re: Trend towards illegibility

By Aboroth • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
My theory is that now that there are people who do nothing except design and tweak the user interface, they can't ever be "done" or else they risk people realizing how wasteful it is to have that job position and lose their job. Most of the time, once a UI is done and works well, it's best to leave it alone with the required minimal changes that need to be done be assigned instead to the general project maintainers, not specialized "UX" designers. They might actually think they're useful, like most people want to believe, so they'll come up with things to justify their employment. It's easy for them to set up and game a "study" to justify whatever change it is they want to make to the UI in order to keep busy and keep their job. The more drastic the change is, the more work it is, the more they can argue the merits of keeping their pointless job going, and the more controversy and fluff they can inflate their head with to self-justify their own importance.

Sold our Kindles because how they handle fonts

By dhanson865 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

My wife got a Kindle a few years ago and liked it but still found it hard to read.

At one point I saw her reading something in Comic Sans and I thought it was odd and unrelated.

Somewhat later she found about about dyslexie font and OpenDyslexic font and started using them on various devices.

I found out you could manually import fonts onto the kindle paperwhite so we ordered one.

Amazon patched all the Kindles to block importing fonts and limit you to the preloaded fonts.

There is a workaround involving downloading free ebooks and converting them in such a way that you embed the font but it isn't an option for the vast majority of what she would like to read on the Kindle.

We then sold our Kindles and she just reads on a laptop instead.

To add to the fun it isn't just Amazon, I haven't found a way to add the dyslexie/opendislexic font to a non rooted android phone. How hard would it be for device manufacturers to just add a simple font import or heaven forbid actually include more fonts in the base configuration?

As is phones/phablets/tablets are more common than Kindles and now big enough/cheap enough to make the Kindle less important but it's just moved my concern about this issue from Amazon to Android.

CFQ In Linux Gets BFQ Characteristics

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
jones_supa writes: Paolo Valente from University of Modena has submitted a Linux kernel patchset which replaces CFQ (Completely Fair Queueing) I/O scheduler with the last version of BFQ (Budget Fair Queuing, a proportional-share scheduler). This patchset first brings CFQ back to its state at the time when BFQ was forked from CFQ. Paolo explains: "Basically, this reduces CFQ to its engine, by removing every heuristic and improvement that has nothing to do with any heuristic or improvement in BFQ, and every heuristic and improvement whose goal is achieved in a different way in BFQ. Then, the second part of the patchset starts by replacing CFQ's engine with BFQ's engine, and goes on by adding current BFQ improvements and extra heuristics." He provides a link to the thread in which it is agreed on this idea, and a direct link to the e-mail describing the steps.

WTF title?

By paulpach • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The title says: "CFQ In Linux Gets BFQ Characteristics"

CFQ is not getting BFQ characteristics, it is simply being replaced by BFQ in this patchset, in several steps.
This is nothing new, BFQ has been proposed for the kernel before.

LOL ... WTF?

By gstoddart • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Yeah, well I'm taking my AFQ, combining it with my DFQ, and I'm going to EFQ the FFQ out of here.

Take that.

Chain of authorship

By tepples • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

And why are they going thorough the trouble of removing improvements from CFQ?

My guess is to establish a chain of authorship, so that that those things that BFQ shares with CFQ can be correctly attributed to the author of CFQ. Chain of authorship is very important to the Linux project. It dates back to the SCO lawsuit, which ends up being why Git has the --signoff option.

Why not just make an addition one named BFQ?

That might be the ultimate plan: duplicate CFQ, producing a second scheduler identical to CFQ, then apply the heuristic removal patch and the BFQ patch to "Copy of CFQ".


By Tough Love • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

And why are they going thorough the trouble of removing improvements from CFQ?

CFQ was never very good, Lots of quirky behaviour, often being worse than the NOOP scheduler and sometimes stuffing up completely. This is a nice polite way of taking it out behind the barn and shooting it. The new one turns in massive improvements in read latency, respectable improvement in other loads, and little to no regression on any load, besides being thought through and 1,000,000 times better documented than the old steaming pile.


By BrookHarty • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Been running PF-Kernel for a few years, which has a bunch of patches, including BFQ, ck patch set with BFS, Tux in ice, UKSM, and grayskys gcc kernel patch. I normally just use the PF Github repo

Love it. With BFQ, you no longer get system pauses on your desktop. I can listen to music or play a video, run a few vms, while a compiler runs in the background, and x-windows doesn't pause, typing doesn't pause, its how a system should act. Your system seems more fluid with no pausing.

PF-Kernel seems to be for Arch/Gentoo/Rpm based, but I've used it on Ubuntu systems. Pf-Kernel isn't the only one, there are other kernels out there that include more performance patches, Xanmod and Liquorix

A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender. The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it's the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through. Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.

Re:Caller ID Blocker

By Tangential • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So much telemarketing is just scam these days


Most of them seem to be trying to get me to donate to their political campaign or charity, which after further research, doesn't exist.

Nowadays I think I'd rather donate to a political party that doesn't exist than to one that does..

Re:Caller ID Blocker

By earthloop • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Just Google for "It's Lenny" :)

Re:Caller ID Blocker

By Aighearach • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We're talking about telemarketers here. If you can physically harm them over the phone line... it might delay the next call. Totally worth it.

If no innocents are being killed, I say fire at will, stake those vampires!

They have no right to call you, you merely don't have methods to stop them. Often they're calling in violation of the law, and if they harm themselves doing it, well they should buy telephones that don't harm them. Blaming their victim for screaming too loudly is pathetic; it is their telephone manufacturer who has a duty to make a safe device, not the person they call with it.

Re:Caller ID Blocker

By vux984 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

. There are some very legitimate reasons for this such as: Changing your call back number to a toll-free number, and maintaining the original calling number on forwarded calls.

It should be pretty trivial to develop a system where the carrier can verify that the spoofed ID is in fact a legitimate number tied to the calling organization.

It should be even more trivial to develop a system where the callerid spoofed on my handset can be reported to the carrier, with the time of the call, and they can immediately determine where the call REALLY came from, and report that to me, to the police... to whomever.

Re:Caller ID Blocker

By _Sharp'r_ • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I strung him along by responding literally to his questions while using a handy FreeBSD server I had sitting there under the table until he gave me their logmein url(which I later reported to logmein support, who promised to close their account), then allowed him to finally make sense of my somewhat responses (I don't see a Start button, but I do have a window I can type that command in... What version am I using? The OS says version 10, etc...) when I finally asked him what kind of computer engineer has never heard of FreeBSD before...

Wendelstein 7-X Fusion Reactor Produces Its First Flash of Hydrogen Plasma

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
Zothecula writes: Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.

Re:This is completely awesome

By Hussman32 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They aren't intending to generate energy with this reactor; the goal is to sustain plasma at temperatures high enough to eventually get to fusion. The article says they are at 80 million deg C, which is about 7 keV. They need to get to 14 keV for a D-T reaction (look at the minimum for the Lawson Criterion) . That's excellent work, and if they can sustain it for thirty minutes, even better. When they are done, the design will be proven and then they can do the harder problem of building a reactor that can withstand the neutrons and recover the heat for a secondary cycle.

Re:This is completely awesome

By Rei • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Interestingly enough, for d-t fusion, the neutrons are not an unwanted waste product, but actually essential. Tritium doesn't grow on trees, you have to make it. And more importantly, d-t fusion only gives off one neutron, and it takes one neutron captured by 6Li to breed 1 tritium (you can also make tritium from 7Li bombardment and not consume the neutron, but due to the cross sections and energies involved its usually not as interesting). So if you use one neutron to make the fuel that produces one neutron, and you can't capture 100% of the neutrons, you're in trouble! You get around this by using a lithium-beryllium blanket, as beryllium is a good neutron "multiplier" (capturing one high energy neutron and yielding two lower energy neutrons). It's also rare, expensive as heck and its dusts are highly toxic, but it's consumed at a tiny rate, so it's mainly just an initial cost (heavy elements like lead can also be used as multipliers but they're not very effective in this context, their cross sections don't extend down as far as beryllium and their (n, Xn) reactions where X>2 don't make up for it). So basically, while you lose some neutrons to unwanted reactions, you overall end up producing enough to produce enough tritium for your reactor to consume. The key point is, you want the neutrons to be hitting your reactor, they're doing you a service ;)

There will of course be unwanted neutron captures, but when you engineer it you're choosing specifically what materials are going to be bombarded, so you can pick materials with low neutron capture cross sections and which capture to isotopes that are either stable or have short half lives. Concrete is great for how cheap it is (light elements in general are, and concrete is mostly made of light stuff). As far as metals go, aluminum is great where heat loads or mechanical stresses aren't excessive. Beryllium is even better, as well as stronger and lighter... but see the aforementioned issues with it. Steel is "okay", usually fine if you're careful about what you alloy it with. You generally want to avoid titanium. Graphite is superb if you run it hot enough (otherwise you risk Wigner energy problems). Composites likewise, although they're more temperature limited. Most common ceramics are made of light elements, which makes them very good to use, although those with heavy elements (like tungsten carbide) should be avoided. Tungsten in general should be avoided unless necessary. Some ceramics like boron carbide/nitride are highly heat and corrosion tolerant, high compressive strength, huge neutron absorbers and don't yield dangerous byproducts, which lets them fit multiple roles at once - so long as there's little tensile or shear stresses. In some cases you may want more of a neutron "window", wherein things like zirconium or lead would be good - particularly specific isotopes of them if you're willing to pay for enrichment. It all depends on the operating environment and geometry.


By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius

80 million Celsius? That's on par with a Hot Pocket that's been microwaved too long. I wonder if they are using Hot Pocket technology. ;)

Re:sunfire / in my stellerator / makes me... happy

By kellymcdonald78 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
There is also the element of funding for R&D. In the late 70's the DoE produced a fusion roadmap based on different funding levels. There was a crash program forcast which would have led to commercial fusion in 10-15 years, a robust development program that would led to fusion in 15-20 years, and a point where if funding remained below a certain level, would never lead to commercial fusion. Guess what funding level was chosen (well below the "fusion never" level). So the joke of "fusion is the technology of the future and always will be", is a result of no real investment being made. Sure ITER may be a $15billion project, but its also a 50 year long project. First announced in 1985, first plasma wont occur till 2025, that's 40 fricken years later, not exactly demonstrative of an intensive focus on developing fusion energy. Compared to what we invest in developing other sources of energy, its chump change

Re:Fusion energy is impractical

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Fast neutrons can impact any isotope and destroy it in that regard, but that says nothing about the long-term structural stability of the bulk material. Different materials have different annealing properties. More to the point, slow neutrons can do the same thing, just in a different manner (that is, (n, gamma), instead of (n, random-ions-and-neutrons)). Fast neutrons are overall more damaging (and of course more penetrating... although we're not talking about spallation neutrons here with energies up into the GeVs, we're only talking 14,1 MeV) - but they're not some sort of whole different ball game. I am, of course, assuming you're talking about structural issues. If you're talking about from the perspective of how radioactive it will become, tell me, how hot does beryllium get under heavy bombardment? Boron carbide? Graphite? I could keep going. In fact, I did, further up the thread.

There are many reasons to complain about various designs, but your over-generalized statement is anything but some kind of universal rule. And really, the sort of flexibility of materials that fusion allows versus fission more than compensates for having to deal with higher neutron energies.

Have Your iPhone 6 Repaired, Only To Get It Bricked By Apple

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter Nemosoft Unv. writes: In case you had a problem with the fingerprint sensor or some other small defect on your iPhone 6 and had it repaired by a non-official (read: cheaper) shop, you may be in for a nasty surprise: error 53. What happens is that during an OS update or re-install the software checks the internal hardware and if it detects a non-Apple component, it will display an error 53 and brick your phone. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable. Thousands of people have flocked to forums to express their dismay at this. What's more insiduous is that the error may only appear weeks or months after the repair. Incredibly, Apple says this cannot be fixed by any hard- or software update, while it is clearly their software that causes the problem in the first place. And then you thought FTDI was being nasty ...

well, screw that

By roc97007 • Score: 3 • Thread

First I've heard of this. I have a very small side business replacing batteries, headphone jacks, buttons, screens in mobile devices -- I have the factory tools and know where to get the parts. I don't really make any money off it. I got into it mostly from being offended by the electronic waste these devices represent. A handheld shouldn't become useless just because a $3 part has failed, and the cost to fix through regular channels should not approach 50 - 100% of the replacement cost.

But if Apple is going to brick the device after I've fixed it, I can't in good faith make the attempt. Instead, I'll have to recommend that the customer buy something else -- something actually repairable.

Re:Getting away with it?

By pak9rabid • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Here's the relevant part of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act:

Warrantors cannot require that only branded parts be used with the product in order to retain the warranty.[7] This is commonly referred to as the "tie-in sales" provisions,[8] and is frequently mentioned in the context of third-party computer parts, such as memory and hard drives.

Re:Damned if you do, damned if you don't

By tlambert • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Why should the touch ID sensor need to, or be actually doing, store any data or provide authentication?

Because the encryption key for the device is stored in an NVRAM knapsack in the touch sensor. The CPU uses a public key to establish an encrypted connection via the bus which connects it to the touch sensor, and then sends a block down to decrypt the contents of the knapsack, and then uses that to decrypt the user data key that's stored in the NVRAM attached to the CPU, and then uses that to decrypt the user data.

By forcing a pairing of the touch sensor with the CPU, it means you can not do a two stage attack by topping just one chip, you'd have to top both chips, and if you did that, your half-of-a-key-pair that you obtained wouldn't work with another device.

The way Apple handles this in the repair cases is it just replaces your device guts with completely new device guts (so that your cheesy engraving is not taken away -- and neither are your scratches in non-critical areas), and pops a new sensor chip (with an uninitialized PROM) into the device, and sends those guts to someone else as a refurbish.

But that does mean that third party repair for either of the two components is theoretically possible, but practically speaking, Apple will not sell you the chip you need to replace to do the same repair that an authorized service center would do. On the other hand... it means that Apple won't get the blame if you put in some third party battery or charging circuitry, and burn down your damn house because you wanted to save $5 or whatever.

Re:Maybe a good thing

By david_thornley • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Good security sometimes makes no sense to the casual observer. Security is hard to do right and easy to screw up. I'd want to find out why the feature is there in detail and from a security person who knows what he or she is talking about before jumping to conclusions.

Not defending Apple, but...

By the_B0fh • Score: 3 • Thread

There is the possibility that Apple discovered some TLAs have been fucking with their TouchID and using it to steal fingerprints/bypass TouchID.

Otherwise, Apple typically prefers to have good user interaction rather than bad interaction, and they have to know that if they brick enough people's devices, it's going to be extremely bad press, and reduce the chances of people immediately upgrading when new versions come out - which is a number they really like to keep as high as possible!

To balance that bad press, against people hacking TouchIDs, and them falling on the "lets keep it secure" side, I can see that happening.

Grandma's Phone, DSL, and the Copper They Share

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
szczys writes: DSL is high-speed Internet that uses the same twisted pair of copper wire that still works with your Grandmother's wall-mounted telephone. How is that possible? The short answer is that the telephone company is cheating. But the long answer delves into the work of Claude Shannon, who figured out how much data could be reliably transferred using a given medium. His work, combined with that of Harry Nyquist and Ralph Hartley (pioneers of channel capacity and the role noise plays in these systems), brings the Internet Age to many homes on an infrastructure that has been in use for more than a hundred years.

Re:Everyone's phone, DSL and copper

By Dcnjoe60 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Actually it won't. Not unless your grandmas phone was touch tone and 80 years ago it certainly wasn't.

You may not be able to place calls with a rotary phone any more, but you certainly can receive them. The system still works, its just the dialing methods have changed.

Claude Shannon

By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Claude Shannon was truly one of the unrecognized geniuses of his time.

He was an amazingly brilliant man who got very little of the recognition he deserved. Virtually ALL modern-day communication depends directly on the algorithms and information theory practices he invented. He's quite rightly known as the "founding father of electronic communications age".

He was still alive when I was in tech school, quite literally a "living legend".

I worked on some of this.

By sbaker • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Many *MANY* years ago I was working as a software engineer at Philips Research in the early 1980's when they were looking into ISDN systems somewhat like DSL for the UK market - the business of sending anything over twisted pair copper is a nightmare. I wasn't directly working on the electronics (I was doing software) - but I shared an office with people who did...and they had a heck of a time characterizing the wires that their signals had to go down.

As I recall, the problems mostly come where one wire is spliced into another. Much of this infrastructure was put in the 1900's and it's horrible. Sometimes wires are just twisted together and capped, sometimes twisted and taped, sometimes twisted and just left open to the elements, sometimes they are soldered. Sometimes the places where the wires are joined gets wet when it rains. Sometimes the tightness of the twisted wire connection depends on the ambient temperature. The amount of cross-talk between wires is all over the map as different kinds of insulation was used (and much of it has degraded over the years). At the subscriber end, there were all kinds of phones being used - plus ugly stuff like "Party lines" (where two houses share a phone line!) that had been abandoned leaving extra wires in the ground that were still connected to the network.

All of those things affect the ability to get a decent amount of bandwidth down a wire that was never designed to do it. So the electronics has to be smart about the signal being reflected at each splice down the line and causing 'echoes', and designing affordable circuitry to detect and cancel those echoes was a nightmare. The amount of attenuation you'll get is all over the map - everything has to self- adjust and monitor to give it any chance of working.

So, as poor as DSL can be - it's a miracle it works at all over crappy old telephone wires.

    -- Steve

Re:What year is this?

By Kjella • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

It all depends on how far you are from the nearest central, 3-5 km out on basic ADSL is pretty crap. If you live close to the exchange or they've pulled fiber "close" and you get ADSL2 or VDSL you can get decent 10-50 Mbit. No doubt the growth is fiber though, here in Norway it's now 28% (+6%) fiber, 22% (-5%) DSL since last year.

Re:What year is this?

By Dragonslicer • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I'd be thrilled if I could get DSL.

Your Internet connection is so bad, you only have enough bandwidth for one letter in your username.

UK Wants Authority To Serve Warrants In U.S.

Posted by timothyView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 writes with this news, as reported by USA Today: British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday. The talks are aimed at allowing British authorities access to a range of data, from interceptions of live communications to archived emails involving British suspects, according to the officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly. ... Under the proposed plan, British authorities would not have access to records of U.S. citizens if they emerged in the British investigations. Congressional approval would be required of any deal negotiated by the two countries.

Re:Why isn't headline "Obama willing to bend over.

By gstoddart • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Oh, please, the US has been demanding this same kind of crap around the world since 2001.

This security stuff is now the keys to the kingdom, you can undermine sovereignty and violate laws in secret if you put on your fucking puppy dog face and says "because, security".

The US government is actively involved in doing the shit to the rest of the world, so don't look to us for any sympathy. Because an awful lot of Americans seem to think it's just fine when you do it to the rest of the world.

You're damned right this doesn't happen in a vacuum.

But if you think the US hasn't been demanding the ability to wiretap others, or just going ahead and doing it, you've been willfully ignorant to the last bunch of years.

Only now that it's happening to you, you're suddenly outraged.

WTF happened?

By AndyKron • Score: 3 • Thread
I thought our forefathers fought Britain to be free of them? WTF happened?

So they want a smaller, more useless Interpol?

By ComputerGeek01 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Both nations are part of Interpol which was established for exactly this purpose. If they have a problem with the established organization then they need to reform that intermediary body for the betterment of all nations involved. That way it's not just the US you gain better cooperation with, but the other 188 countries as well. If you can't get the other member nations to agree with your proposals, then maybe your ideas aren't that great after all. This "alternative" of sidestepping established practices and micromanaging jurisdictional treaties between every god damn nation under the sun, just because you can't stand criticism from your peers, is nothing short of ridiculous.

Or maybe this has more to do with Interpol's charter forbidding their intervention in political matters #tinfoilhat.

Re:Thanks, Obama

By Kobun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I absolutely agree with you, for what it's worth. I'd like to add the handful of points below:
  • * - The Republican frontrunners are all awful. Bigoted and racist, bought off, stupid-religious pandering turds.
  • * - Mind you, there's nothing wrong with religion by itself. You know how the Founding Fathers were pretty much all Diests? Why can't we get back to that, instead of today's superficial Cracker-Jesus?
  • * - Bush followed by Bush the 2nd should have taught us that anything resembling family dynasties are a terrible mistake. The Clintons had their time. I would avoid voting for Hillary on that basis alone, even if she wasn't an awful liar and generally horrible person.
  • * - On a personal level, my policy for the last 16 years has been to vote for the strongest third party candidate that emerges. I'd love to see an end to the two-party system, however impossible that actually is.
  • * - It really doesn't matter, because the state I live in votes so strongly for whoever the Democrat candidate is that there's no hope of it changing.

Lastly, for my single point of contention with you I offer this. The USA's current Healthcare system is already awful, expensive, and sub-standard. The situation exists that SOMETHING will be done about it, unfortunately the something will likely be worse. The "Free Health Care Giveaway" Sanders proposes is probably going to be awful. I also remember how terrible Hillary's healthcare proposal from the early 90's was (and trust me, she hasn't changed in the past 30 years). Basically, I feel that whichever Democrat wins (I really hope the Republicans can't win), we're in for another round of grab-your-ankles-without-lube.

Not Ever Going To Happen

By gavron • Score: 3 • Thread

The first response in this thread is "So it begins..." but no, so it does not begin.

The UK wants this (and that part is true) and USATODAY ("TV in print") is happy
to tell us. It's not a proposal. It's not a treaty. It's not a draft-anything. It's as much
of a NON-STARTER as you can get. It's USATODAY Friday Filler.

However, this is not something Congress can allow, the President can sign, and
the law be born. It is against the sovereign principles of a free nation, against
international law, and against the DoI and the COTUS.

It won't happen. Continuing to cry about it maybe happening is making more
noise than the deaf "oof" the nonstory would have made.

Thanks, Timothy! Slashdot's new regime continues to show its stellar qualities
of approving utter crapola for the front page!