Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:It'll never happen (Score 1) 277

by sbaker (#48928371) Attached to: The discovery of intelligent alien life would be met predominantly with...

Negative energy isn't antimatter. If it was, then colliding anti-matter with regular matter would produce a soft 'poof' sound rather than a gigantic explosion. E=mc^2 applies to antimatter...it doesn't have negative mass - so it doesn't have negative energy either.

Negative energy means your idea doesn't work.

Comment: Re:So what will this accomplish? (Score 1) 154

by Technician (#48917935) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

I'm old enough to remember capping gas prices in the 1970's where retail prices were held below wholesale. Anybody remember the days where stations had flags out? Red, out of gas. yellow, emergency services only, green gas available. Traveling to Idaho had a string of red. Parked in a small town and spent the night to await the truck in the morning. Most places tried to ration gas to a couple of dollars (couple of gallons) so you constantly drove from station to station instead of filling up. Lines for stations with gas circled the block.

For drives not wanting to risk car damage from driving in hazardous conditions, I can see where a lot of drivers will stay home that do not have chains or a high ground clearance vehicle.

Comment: A call for Write Protect (Score 5, Interesting) 94

by Technician (#48913819) Attached to: Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

It is time ro return to the Write Protect Switch. Passwords are no longer effective in preventing firmware alterations by hostile organizations.

For those old enough to remember them, changing a BIOS required an EPROM burner and UV eraser. Changing CMOS settings required setting the write protect jumper.

Early infections were restricted to Write Enabled floppies, hard drives for machines with them, and everything else was write protected.

It is time to return to write protected firmware requiring physical access to alter.

Our complacency with remote management is showing the error of our ways as we are compromised.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 210

by ralphdaugherty (#48911079) Attached to: Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

Saying "coding" is like it's learning medical billing or something. Which is probably more useful for most people.

Coding, or rather programming, is not a new literacy in the sense that exposure should be forced. Programming tools are free and there are free programming tutorial websites. That should more than suffice for today's equivalent of most of us here who did whatever we could to get our hands on a PC, type in programs to learn, taking courses by choice, and enjoying it.

We programmers are not more or less literate than other acquired skills, on that skill alone. And those who don't program are not more or less literate than us lacking that skill.

Those who want to program will have already jumped right in as soon as they were ready. There is freer access than ever now. I'm sure we'll have fine new generations of programmers to join us.

Comment: Re:I guess it depends on where you live (Score 1) 101

by Voyager529 (#48878465) Attached to: Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

I wonder if you live near where I live. It's actually pretty funny. My new-ish employer and I go back and forth a bit; he's on Verizon and I'm on T-Mo. He laughed at me when I told him that I really liked T-Mo and that their coverage was great. As I go from place to place, I've never once been without coverage, no matter where. In the office, I have solid LTE...and they have a range extender (i.e. paying Verizon to use your own internet coverage). They've listed basements where they can't get signal, and I'm like, "wait...you don't have service there?" Every. Time. I was surprised when I was at one site where he said that service was sketchy. I had full coverage, and got 6.9MBytes (yes, bytes, not bits) per second downstream.

Now, in fairness, the last time I took an Amtrak ride (last year), there were PLENTY of dead spots, but Verizon had noticeably fewer of them. If "middle of nowhere" coverage is important, then Verizon is still probably the better bet. I sure won't be switching, though.

Comment: Re:The policy is pretty clear on windows.com. (Score 1) 570

by Voyager529 (#48878305) Attached to: Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

Blows the subscription model idea out of the water.

tl;dr: "supported lifetime" seems to be the easy cop out here, especially since it is a term that doesn't apply to desktops in the same ways that it does in mobile, and trying to force desktops to adhere in that manner isn't a good thing...

True, but it raises other questions instead. "supported lifetime of the device" is a highly suspect phrase here. We see Apple giving phones and tablets approximately three years of "supported lifetime". Apple can do that for a few reasons, but amongst the reasons why the customer base generally tolerates it is because Apple releases new devices mostly-annually, so getting three years of both hardware and software improvements is usually a worthwhile investment for consumers - the "supported lifetime" is acceptable because of trade-up.

Desktops are a completely different animal. I suspect that a significant minority (if not a majority) of iPad users have a desktop or laptop in active use that is older than their iPad, and I'd similarly suspect that the majority of them would prefer to upgrade their iPad this year, rather than their desktop, given the choice of only being able to spring for one or the other. What we've done with desktops is had two functional tiers of existence: in-warranty (where the OEM generally updates and fixes things), and out-of-warranty (where 'the computer guy' handles this stuff). Mobile devices are more disposable, in no small part because repairing them and upgrading them isn't always desirable - either expensive, impractical, or both. This is the area where traditional desktop/laptop computing has always had an edge.

Moreover, it is highly irregular for OEMs to provide OS upgrades to their computers. I had an HP laptop that I bought with XP after Vista's announcement (but not its release), so I registered the machine and HP sent me a Vista disk and key. That was highly irregular, and had to do with my purchase date, not my warranty length. I bought my Origin laptop with a three year, soup-to-nuts warranty in early 2011. That ran out last year, long after Windows 8's release. No Windows 8 disc in sight, and while admittedly I didn't ask, I sincerely doubt Origin would have sent it to me, despite the laptop being within the "supported lifetime of the device" by most practical definitions. The machine does, however, get regular security patches for the version of Windows that it /does/ run. Mobile devices' concept of "updates" involve both "security patches" and "OS version upgrades", whereas desktops do not.

So how does all this tie into Windows being a subscription or not? Well, both "OS updates" and "supported lifetime" are more clearly defined terms in mobile devices, and bringing that paradigm to the desktop yields yet another issue: the "broom problem". If you're a Doctor Who fan, there was an episode this season where The Doctor was saying that if you take a broom and replace the head when it wears out, and then you replace the handle because it breaks, and then replace the head again because it wears out, it's not the same broom anymore. With desktops, we have the same issue - the hard disk dies, we replace the disk. We upgrade a 4GB RAM module with an 8GB module, we add a video card to play games, and the PSU to power it, then we want to SLI, so we replace the motherboard, which mandates a different processor, and change the DVD burner to a Blu-Ray burner...If all these upgrades and replacements happen over three years, we end up with a completely different computer than the one we started with - at what point does the Windows license no longer apply? Microsoft has arbitrarily pointed to "the motherboard", which in fairness is about the closest thing one can get to a reasonable component definition (it's got the most hardware-as-detected-by-Windows of any single physical component), but even those die or have some sort of issue or whatever. What if the CPU is supported, but the motherboard is not? I sincerely doubt Gigabyte is supporting this board anymore, but it is, in theory, compatible with a CPU I purchase today from Newegg. Conversely, if I put an old IDE DVD-ROM into a computer that's otherwise fully supported, does it no longer count as a "supported lifetime of the device" because one component is no longer serviced?

I don't like it no matter how you slice it. Either Microsoft gets super-duper strict with component swaps in order to uphold the definition of "supported lifetime", or Microsoft lets basically-anything qualify in the hopes that revenue is made elsewhere (tracking, mobile sales, and "apps"). The third option would be that MS goes "subscription", which then raises the obvious question of "exactly how crippled will the computer get if the subscription isn't paid", a line so difficult for Microsoft to toe that the closest present analog - a copy of Windows that's failed activation - relies almost solely on nag screens and a lack of wallpaper.

Finally, it's not entirely inconceivable that Microsoft isn't trying a new twist on their old standby - Embrace (new technology, 'services first' focus), Extend (market share by making it possible for every user to get the new version that is largely integrated with the new services), and Extinguish (make "Free Windows" progressively less useful with the shiny new "subscription" option a click away).

It will be interesting...and I'm most certainly hanging onto my plastic disc editions, just in case.

Comment: How are these things "bots"? (Score 3, Informative) 41

by sbaker (#48868065) Attached to: Microbots Deliver Medical Payload In Living Creature For the First Time

So it looks like these things are basically zinc-lined tubes...no sensors, no guidance, no controls, no electronics, no communications or intelligence of any kind.

How is that a "bot"?

The gizmag report (second link in the story here) has a very beautiful picture of something which looks like a proper robot...but the other two links show simple cylinders.

I could imagine it being a motor for a bot...but it's nowhere *REMOTELY* near being an actual robot, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Look...this is an impressive achievement, it's very clever and I'm sure it has some very neat applications - but let's not over-sell it?


Comment: Re:I hope not (Score 5, Interesting) 489

by Voyager529 (#48851587) Attached to: Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

Not trying to start a flame war, but what would companies use instead?

This is exactly the problem, and I'll underscore it with an inquiry to anyone who echoes the grandparent post...

Amongst the reasons Exchange is as readily used as it is, isn't because Exchange itself is some awesome piece of software. Exchange is part of a bigger ecosystem that incorporates a few major pieces:

--ActiveSync - and more to the point, ActiveSync support from billions of phones and tablets.
--Active Directory - single sign-on through Outlook from a domain user, and the reverse: creating a mailbox also creates a user in AD.
--Outlook - a mail/contact/calendar/task client that has a handful of competitors that excel in one area or another (IMO Zimbra coming pretty close), but still a program whose replacement will require a barricade on the door to keep out the execs who wish to use their torches and pitchforks.
--Self-Hosted - Gmail and company don't count.

I've seen plenty of great answers to one or more of these solutions. I'm a fan of the super-easy-to-use-and-manage IceWarp, but the Icewarp mail client is lacking pretty notably. Google is great if you're okay with them having your mail (many are), but unless there's an on-site version of Gmail, it's not a fair comparison fight. Univention makes a pretty good PDC replacement, but using for its mail server isn't the greatest and mobile device support is lacking. Zentyal and ClearOS are also great for small environments, but scaling becomes a problem.

So, to those who say "Exchange Sucks", I say "fine. Show me a better system that satisfies all of the above criteria, and I will be MORE than happy to take a long, hard look at it." I don't like Exchange, or its CAL structure, either...but "worst except all the rest" seems to apply here.

Comment: Re:Disconnect (Score 1) 184

by Voyager529 (#48851437) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

Different apps. I haven't been in Cydia recently, but I'd wager that the variety of apps that leverage the "rootedness" of an Android phone outnumber what's on an iPhone. Similarly, there are a number of apps (Rocketdial, GoSMS, etc.) that require a jailbreak on iOS

I'm not sure that's the case... besides there are more app options for things that do not require jailbreaking (like custom keyboards for example).

The examples I provided were a replacement for the dialer and the SMS client; I'm unaware of there being unofficial replacements for them in Cydia, but I'm all but certain that there aren't any in the App Store proper.

As for the example of apps that require jailbreaking... since the basic assumption is rooted/jailbroken system, why is that an issue? You get to use them if you like either way then.

Because very few users of rooted phones use rooted apps in exclusivity. I like having Xprivacy, but it doesn't mean that I don't also play Angry Birds - I can't have booth without root, but they're not mutually exclusive. There are also apps for Android that don't exist on iOS (again, perhaps in Cydia, but certainly not in the App Store) - there are several torrent clients on Android - they don't require root there, but if they're available at all on iOS (I remember cTorrent being a thing on iOS; don't know if there's anything better that's been released there since like 2010), you most certainly need a jailbreak.

Well, at initial setup, there's not much that Google can ascertain - your Gmail address, your cell number, your phone carrier, and your location...

Whereas with an Apple tablet all it's going to get is your IP during activation (it asks on first run if you are OK with it collecting location info).

For the purposes of this post, I'll roll with the assumption that Apple doesn't collect that data anyway. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you need an Apple account to use an iPhone, right? If there's no opt-out, then they get an e-mail address as well. iTunes always got my cell number when I would sync the phone (as well as being necessary for iMessage to work, I'd gather), and carrier is a fairly trivial thing to ascertain based on any number of things - a log file that indicates which .PNG file is accessed for the carrier logo, the aforementioned IP address, or even the serial number of the phone - I'd be shocked if they don't have some sort of record of which batch is sold for which carrier. This leaves us with location. Google also gives an opt-out on the location data, but I tend to not-trust them. The difference between iOS and Android in this respect is that Xprivacy gives a method by which to force an opt-out, completely irrespective of what any given application wants - including all of the system apps.

Because if you're rooting, and more specifically installing a custom ROM, carrier updates become irrelevant.

I'm not talking about carrier updates, I'm talking about installing new Google releases, which may have some new collection mechanisms you have not yet blocked or otherwise break your privacy software.

Xprivacy blocks access at a pretty low level and blocks them pretty effectively despite updates. I could see something interesting happening maybe at the driver level, but every time they update the Play Services, the "good luck with that" response from Xprivacy appears to hold thus far.

tl;dr: Android sucks, except for all the alternatives.

For out of the box privacy (esp. for the non-technical user) iOS is 1000x better than Android.

For jailbroken privacy for a very technical user, iOS is a tad better. But again it's a matter than the OS is not going to care that it's not collecting your data to transmit back.

I can't really dispute that, to be honest. Android, when properly beaten into submission, CAN have more privacy than iOS, but I'd completely agree that this is a very deliberate state that is not the easiest to obtain.

Comment: Re: 8.1 better than 7? (Score 1) 489

by Voyager529 (#48851277) Attached to: Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

bluntly, replacing the shell is a pretty deep modification

The program is CALLED "Classic Shell", that doesn't mean it's actually a shell overhaul (GNOME isn't a lawn ornament...). It's a simple ~5MB Installshield Wizard that puts a small overlay on the start button and preempts the internal Windows equivalent, providing a more traditional start menu interface reminiscent of either Windows 2000, XP(ish), or 7. The only other thing it touches with regards to the shell is that it can disable the 'hot corners' that Windows 8 seems to believe are actually useful on a desktop.

This is NOT like replacing GNOME with KDE.

When it is incorrect, it is, at least *authoritatively* incorrect. -- Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy