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Comment: Re:Do people really take this risk seriously? (Score 5, Insightful) 179

by Rei (#49752865) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

The article is also based on some terrible reasoning, like:

That means there will be no asteroids left in the Solar System, because they all will have struck Earth, in another few hundred million years. Think someone’s overestimated something there? Yeah, me too. Let’s take a look with the flaws in our fear-based reasoning.

Yeah, in a universe where our solar system is some sort of perfect steady state. Which, of course, it is not. Asteroids collide or - more commonly, come close to other bodies and gravitationally interact - and throw each other into different orbits. When that happens, non-Earth-crossing asteroids can become Earth-crossing ones. For example, one of the candidates for the K-Pg extinction event is a Batisma-family asteroid. This family came from an asteroid breakup 80 million years ago.

A person well versed in the field would be aware of the fact that asteroids are not in some sort of unchanging steady state. Which is why they're the ones paid to do the research on the subject.

And more to the point, we really don't have a good handle on what's out there. We have trouble making out dwarf planets in the outer solar system. We really have no bloody clue what could be on its way into the inner solar system, apart from studying how often major events happen.

And on that note, another flaw in his logic, given that until recently, the vast majority of Tunguska-style events would never even have been detected, having occurred over the oceans, remote deserts, the poles, etc. So by all means it's perfectly fair to say that the fact that an asteroid hitting earth is more likely to hit a remote uninhabited area is perfectly fair. But saying that while mentioning the rarity of inhabited areas having been hit in the past is double-counting. The historical record is evidence of how often they hit populated areas, not how often they hit Earth.

Lastly, his claim that only one person has ever been "hit by an asteroid" is ridiculous. 1500 people were injured by the Chelyabinsk one in 2013 badly enough to seek medical attention. Yes, they weren't "hit by rocks", but that's not what large asteroid impacts do; they mostly or completely vaporize by exploding in the atmosphere and/or on impact. And there's lots of reports throughout history of people getting struck by asteroids; just because they weren't documented by modern medical science doesn't mean it never happened. Seriously, what's the bloody odds that the only person to ever in historical times be hit by an asteroid would be in the 1950s in the middle of a first-world nation? Now what's the odds that someone being hit in the 1950s in the middle of a first-world nation would be well documented, publicized, and believed?

Just a lot of really bad arguments.

Comment: Re:FAQ (Score 1) 130

by squiggleslash (#49750009) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

From what people are writing here, there are multiple definitions of "perfectly well". Someone in an above thread complains that capacitive screens require only the lightest touch, ensuring that they make mistakes when trying to use their fingernail to accurately press a specific pixel.

That, to me, says that the N900 and Neo900 do not have "touch" sensitive displays, they require pressure. I'm finding it improbable (and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I'm increasingly sceptical as this videophilesque discussion continues) that the usual range of gestures we've come to know and, yes, love, are going to work nearly as well on that type of screen.

If I'm wrong and a light tap will always work, and a swipe will never be broken up into multiple gestures or ignored altogether, and so on, then I'd be delighted, albeit surprised the technology isn't being used anywhere else.

Comment: Re:FAQ (Score 1) 130

by squiggleslash (#49748049) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

I'm going to be honest, the more I read this discussion, the move I'm thrown back to old "debates" between advocates of rear projection and plasma TVs, and LCDs, all bemoaning the rise of the latter against such superior technologies as a TV that can only be viewed from one angle (and then not all at the same time), or a TV that requires all 4:3 content be shown in stretch-o-vision to avoid temporary burn-in issues. "But LCDs have a tiny bit of light visible when they're supposed to be black!" screams the videophiles, apparently oblivious to the fact that normal people rarely watch TV in rooms with no ambient light.

The resistive screen they're describing is clearly inferior to capacitive when applied to real world applications. Nobody in their right mind uses their cellphone to "paint" pictures. But everyone uses it to dial numbers, browse websites, and other activities that require a finger, or two, rather than a stylus.

But, hey, for the 0.01% of users who do actually use their cellphones more as an easel than a phone, I guess it might be useful.

Comment: Re:Harder: self-stabilizing parachute, or balance (Score 1) 476

by jfengel (#49745245) Attached to: The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers

But it does require extra fuel. I'd have expected that fuel to be more than the weight of a parachute system, though perhaps not: it would be lowering a mostly-empty tin can.

I imagine that it's a bonus to be able to have that kind of precision on your rocket engines: if you can get them down, then it may provide advantages in going up. Certainly it's nice that you've proven that kind of control.

Comment: In particular, NO redundancy. Reliability drops. (Score 5, Informative) 221

Losing data goes with the territory if you're going to use RAID 0.

In particular, RAID 0 combines disks with no redundancy. It's JUST about capacity and speed, striping the data across several drives on several controllers, so it comes at you faster when you read it and gets shoved out faster when you write it. RAID 0 doesn't even have a parity disk to allow you to recover from failure of one drive or loss of one sector.

That means the failure rate is WORSE than that of an individual disk. If any of the combined disks fails, the total array fails.

(Of course it's still worse if a software bug injects additional failures. B-b But don't assume, because "there's a RAID 0 corruption bug", that there is ANY problem with the similarly-named, but utterly distinct, higher-level RAID configurations which are directed toward reliability, rather than ONLY raw speed and capacity.)

Comment: Re:Taxes? (Score 1) 219

I think that is the content industry view, however rotten it might be. The idea is that if you damaged or lost a book (or some other physical item that's hard to copy), you wouldn't expect to have any choice but to buy a new copy, so why should you have a choice other than paying for replacement with music or videos?

Comment: Re:FAQ (Score 3, Informative) 130

by squiggleslash (#49744075) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

It has a resistive touchscreen. What's more they're saying they're going for resistive because it's "more accurate" than capacitive and capacitive would be a "step back."

I had a Nokia N800 so am familiar with the history of this platform, but it always felt like a prototype to me, and it seems like the Neo900 is still a prototype of something that would have been released ten years ago. What a shame.

Comment: Re:Seems obvious now (Score 4, Interesting) 212

by Rei (#49742243) Attached to: Secret Files Reveal UK Police Feared That Trekkies Could Turn On Society

Can you imagine the dystopian dictatorship where trekkies come to power? All of the halls of power full of people walking around in spandex and fake ears and brow ridges, the fed directed to work toward the absolution of currency, the military directed to accelerate development of phasers and for all recruits to undergo "Kobayashi Maru" training.... NASA would finally get their proposed $18,5 billion dollar annual budget passed - except that the bill would have the word "annual" crossed out and the word "monthly" written in its place. National anti-bullying legislation would be passed, probably with a name like Spock's Law. And of course they'd insist on referring to the UN as the United Federation of Planets.

Comment: NetUSB=proprietary. Is there an open replacement? (Score 2) 69

It happens I could use remote USB port functionality.

(Right now I want to run, on my laptop, a device that requires a Windows driver and Windows-only software. I have remote access to a Windows platform with the software and driver installed. If I could export a laptop USB port to the Windows machine, it would solve my problem.)

So NetUSB is vulnerable. Is there an open source replacement for it? (Doesn't need to be interworking if there are both a Linux port server and a Windows client-pseudodriver available.)

Comment: Opportunity to detect MITM attacks? (Score 4, Interesting) 71

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49737679) Attached to: 'Logjam' Vulnerability Threatens Encrypted Connections

I skimmed the start of the paper. If I have this right:

  - Essentially all the currently-deployed web servers and modern browsers have the new, much better, encryption.
  - Many current web servers and modern browsers support talking to legacy counterparts that only have the older, "export-grade", crypto, which this attack breaks handily.
  - Such a server/browser pair can be convinced, by a man-in-the-middle who can modify traffic (or perhaps an eavesdropper-in-the-middle who can also inject forged packets) to agree to use the broken crypto - each being fooled into thinking the broken legacy method is the best that's available.
  - When this happens, the browser doesn't mention it - and indicates the connection is secure.

Then they go on to comment that the characteristics of the NSA programs leaked by Snowden look like the NSA already had the paper's crack, or an equivalent, and have been using it regularly for years.

But, with a browser and a web server capable of better encryption technologies, forcing them down to export-grade LEAKS INFORMATION TO THEM that they're being monitored.

So IMHO, rather than JUST disabling the weak crypto, a nice browser feature would be the option for it to pretend it is unpatched and fooled, but put up a BIG, OBVIOUS, indication (like a watermark overlay) that the attack is happening (or it connected to an ancient, vulnerable, server):
  - If only a handful of web sites trip the alarm, either they're using obsolete servers that need upgrading, or their traffic is being monitored by NSA or other spooks.
  - If essentially ALL web sites trip the alarm, the browser user is being monitored by the NSA or other spooks.

The "tap detector" of fictional spy adventures becomes real, at least against this attack.

With this feature, a user under surveillance - by his country's spooks or internal security apparatus, other countries' spooks, identity thieves, corporate espionage operations, or what-have-you, could know he's being monitored, keep quiet about it, lie low for a while and/or find other channels for communication, appear to be squeaky-clean, and waste the tapper's time and resources for months.

Meanwhile, the NSA, or any other spy operation with this capability, would risk exposure to the surveilled time it uses it. A "silent alarm" when this capability is used could do more to rein in improper general surveillance than any amount of legislation and court decisions.

With open source browsers it should be possible to write a plugin to do this. So we need not wait for the browser maintainers to "fix the problem", and government interference with browser providers will fail. This can be done by ANYBODY with the tech savvy to build such a plugin. (Then, if they distribute it, we get into another spy-vs-spy game of "is this plugin really that function, or a sucker trap that does tapping while it purports to detect tapping?" Oops! The source is open...)

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 4, Insightful) 817

by squiggleslash (#49737189) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Maybe he doesn't acknowledge it because it's not true? Public transportation is used by people inside cities, which are sometimes expensive, sometimes not, depending on whether the local government has managed to beat back the State DoT or not and allow redevelopment.

Public transportation outside of cities is generally unusable due to Suburbanist planning policies.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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