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Comment: Windows is updating (Score 4, Interesting) 208

by jmv (#47889783) Attached to: Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers

I like to get these scammers on the line for as long as possible, but without wasting my time. So far, what I've seen to work well was "Oh, my computer just crashed, I need to reboot" and "Now windows is applying updates". This means they'll wait without me having to think of stuff to tell them. Any other effective tricks?

Comment: Re:Tenure-hunting discourages risk (Score 3, Insightful) 203

by jmv (#47832789) Attached to: Is There a Creativity Deficit In Science?

In my opinion the peer-review should be changed to a double-blind system: the reviewer should not see name and affiliation of the authors, and judge the work as it would grade an undergrad paper (i.e. harshly). Like this I believe the signal-to-noise ratio in journals would increase, and only good papers would get published.

Please no! The problem with this approach (and it's already happening) is that what will get published is boring papers that bring tiny improvements over the state of the art. They'll get accepted because the reviewers will find nothing wrong with the paper, not because there's much good in there. On the other hand, the really new and interesting stuff will inevitably be less rigorous and probably more controversial, so it's going to be rejected.

Personally, I'd rather have 5% great papers among 95% of crap, than 100% papers that are neither great, nor crap, but just uninteresting. Reviews need to move towards positive rating (how many thing are interesting), away from negative ratings (how many issues you find in the paper). But it's not happening any time soon and it's one of the reasons I've mostly stopped reviewing (too often overruled by the associate editor to be worth my time).

The Military

The High-Tech Warfare Behind the Israel - Hamas Conflict 402

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-got-the-best-guns dept.
Taco Cowboy writes The Israel — Hamas conflict in Gaza is not only about bombs, missiles, bullets, but also about cyberwarfare, battles of the mind over social media, smart underground tunnels and cloud-based missile launching systems. The tunnels that Hamas has dug deep beneath Gaza are embedded with high tech gadgets, courtesy of Qatar, which has funded Hamas with billions to equipped their tunnels with intelligent sensors which are networked to control centers enabling the command and control staff to quickly notify operatives nearby that IDF units are advancing inside a certain tunnel, allowing for rapid deployment of attack units and the setting up of bobby traps inside the tunnel.

In addition, Hamas has automated its rocket firing system using networked, cloud-based launching software provided by Qatar which can set off a rocket from any distance, and set them to go off at a specific time, using timers. "Anyone who thinks they have dozens of people sitting next to launchers firing rockets each time there is a barrage is mistaken," said Aviad Dadon, a senior cyber-security adviser at several Israeli government ministries. While Doha is allowing Hamas to use its technology to fight Israel, it's their own cyber-security the leaders of Qatar are worried about. For the Qataris, the war between Israel and Hamas is a proving ground to see how their investments in cyber systems have paid of — Qatar is very worried that one of its Gulf rivals — specifically Saudi Arabia — will use technology to attack it, and Qatar spends a great deal of money each year on shoring up its cyber-technology.

Comment: Re:How has slashdot come to this? (Score 1) 150

Utter crap. Codenomicon are very friendly to FLOSS and FLOSS developers. They're also great guys. They have been providing free test services to the Samba project for many years now, and have helped us fix many many bugs.

In case you hadn't noticed, the code they're reporting on here is closed source proprietary code...

Comment: Re:All software is full of bugs (Score 3, Insightful) 150

by jmv (#47547835) Attached to: Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

Software on Internet-connected devices is a bit different from your examples though. No matter how insecure cars are, it would be really hard for me to steal a million cars in one night, let alone without being caught. Yet, it's common to see millions of computers/phones being hacked in a very short period of time. And the risk to the person responsible is much lower.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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