Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×

Submission + - Chris Anderson: Drone "Jackassery" Must Stop (

stowie writes: As co-founder and CEO of 3D Robotics, Chris Anderson knows a thing or two about drones. And he knows a few bad apples will ruin the hobby. Anderson says the “mass jackassery” is hurting the industry.

“[It’s] bad and it’s going to get worse. And if we don’t do something about it, no one’s been killed yet, but someone’s going to do something really stupid.”
Anderson says the answer is geo-fencing software that keeps drones away from restricted areas.

“One of the ironies of this drone age is that because we’ve made drones so easy to fly, the process of learning to fly and all the safety and responsibility lessons that come with it are now no longer required.”

Comment Where to start... (Score 1) 1

The headline mentions SMS, but that isn't involved or even mentioned anywhere in the article. Their POC program sent an SMS through a third-party server.

The "researchers" are trying to sell a competitor to the built in Keychain.
Their proof of concept showed them using an unlocked keychain to add the new key. This lowers the threshold to access the keychain, because it is already unlocked. Keychain Access is buried in the Utility folder that most non-savvy users have no idea that it even exists, so they would be very unlikely to unlock the keychain in this way.

Their malicious app had to be installed around the gatekeeper system. By default the gatekeeper blocks anything that isn't secured with a trusted certificate. It would have to be turned off to install.

In short, this requires a series of dumb actions by the user, most of which are not shown in the POC video.

When you unlock a bunch of doors and invite the thief in for tea, you may find your silver missing.

Submission + - How to Build Beautiful Enclosures from FR4 -- aka PCBs (

szczys writes: For decades Voja Antonic has been perfecting his technique of building enclosures form FR4, which is the substance used to make most printed circuit boards.

He shared his method in this amazing post which includes a bunch of illustrations he made to showcase the tips and tricks that make this method work. Building enclosures out of FR4 has been done for a long time, but I've never seen a guide that walks you through everything needed to achieve this level of quality.

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 1) 409

Where I was going with my original comment was that the CEO I was talking to was an "all of the above" alternative supporter. Algae, switchgrass, wind, nuclear, biomass conversion, butanol, solar, etc. Most environmentalist I know, pick and choose. Pro-wind, but not nuclear. Pro-nuclear, but not wind, because the windmills kill birds. Here where I live, we have about 40 eagles (brown and bald) killed a year in the wind farm, and there is a big worry about the California Condor, as this is part of their range.

To my knowledge, these energy companies don't try to discredit anybody, as it is not personal. They may fund attempts to verify or discredit faulty experiments, because bad policy built on faulty science is prone to damage their business. The scientific process includes aspects of independent verification. If an experiment cannot be reliably repeated, then there was an error in the process. Honest scientists welcome verification by adverse critics, as it proves their experiment as valid. If your published work cannot be repeated, or if it does not stand up to independent verification, then it isn't valid.

The energy companies want honest results from all of the research they do. If a promising technology doesn't add up now, they keep working on it until it does. Many of the environmentalists I know, keep pushing very sub-optimal technology as a solution, ignoring the total burden. It's great that you can make it work off grid, but if that requires 20 lead-acid cell batteries, a wind turbine, six solar panels, a diesel generator and a propane tank to power your minimal electrical consumption, then there is a problem. Especially if the twenty year cost of maintenance is over twenty times the cost of conventional grid and gas service.

I advocate for intellectual honesty. I'm not a member of any cult, and I think that cults have no place in scientific debate. Most people I know of who do not subscribe to man-made global warming theories and who have actively examined the plausibility of theories with real-world data, have zero connection to energy companies. They don't want to be treated like mushrooms, and when they attempt to verify analyses and inquire about raw data, rather than "filtered" data, they are met with stone walls. This how the pursuit of intellectual honesty is met by charlatans.

Conversely, I have sat in a few lectures by academics, who were funded explicitly because their research was in search of more "evidence" of man-made global warming. In one case a very sincere academic lectured about his hair-brained scheme to re-sequester CO2 by building giant artificial waterfalls with a particular mineral (don't pay attention to the energy required to quarry the rock or pump the water). I believe many were very good people, who were faced with the problem of finding continued funding for their research. Just like mediaeval artists, the funds keep flowing, if you paint what your patron wants. This is the current problem where dogma has largely been substituted for intellectual and scientific honesty in this field, because funds are tied to the outcome. The few climate scientist who have changed their position from pro-man-made to semi-skeptical, have been ostracized and treated as apostate from the cult.

Greenhouse gasses are to the anti-oil crowd, what bullets are to the anti-gun crowd. It is a means to a political end. The political/religious attacks on energy companies do not make poor alternatives work any better. There is no big oil conspiracy to thwart alternatives. In their labs, they are well-ahead of any of these rink-dink companies that waste our taxpayer dollars.

-- Len

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 1) 409

You cite industries that are built off of intangibles. Energy is a commodity, and the companies in that field are very concerned with cost and profit. They have defined costs, and a huge market that is inelastic. Most of their products are amazingly cheap, given the processing and logistics of delivery.

Music and newspaper are not necessities. Demand of their product is fickle, and the purveyors of this entertainment product are not bright enough to hedge for their demise, as their product is not based on a finite and diminishing resource. I assure that there is always another version of Lady GaGa, ready to be "discovered". That these companies were caught flat-footed by the internet says nothing about the forward vision of the energy sector.

The DoE program is not the right path. It is an attempt to pick winners, regardless of technical merit. Others have gone into Solydra and others, so I won't go there, except to say that these wasteful failures were inevitable. The winners were picked more by political contribution than likelihood of success.

I don't have a clue where you are going about NASA and SpaceX.

-- Len

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 1, Interesting) 409

I don't post all of my conversations with windmill technicians on the internet, or I would cite it for you. Not knowing where you are, I'll post a link to picture of the windmills.

Here's is a picture of the farm. I couldn't find a close-up of the turbines, but each one has dark grease streaks down the support pylons. Each turbine has a complex gearbox and transmission that varies the blade angles, to keep the turbines turning at a constant speed. This is tough to seal, and in practice, there is no seal replacement. The turbines are operated to destruction, and replaced only if economically viable. The only thing staving off the destruction is constant refilling of the gearbox lubricant. These fields are just about as polluted as the the grounds of any oil refinery in the U.S.

-- Len

Comment Re:all the astroturf in this article amazes me... (Score 1) 409

Perhaps if I had cable...

I prefer to dig into topics until I have a solid factual basis to form my opinions. It is called being intellectually honest. You may want to try it sometime, at least to give some backing to your righteousness.

I'm not dismissive of you because of any "news" outlet you may or may not use, so I'd expect the same courtesy.

-- Len

Comment Re:all the astroturf in this article amazes me... (Score 1) 409

I appreciate that an AC thinks I am an astroturfer, but I assure you I am not. I don't work for any energy company, and I don't actually know anything about the Koch Brothers, although I gather they are somehow like a George Soros of the right.

Don't assume that because someone doesn't agree with your point of view, they are bought and paid for by some monied entity. Blind adhesion to an ideology is an expensive sort of ignorance. Get better educated by venturing outside of whatever echo chamber you occupy. Ask just as many questions about that which you believe, as you would about that with which you disagree.

Without questioning everything, you never will know how weak or solid your position is. It is my opinion that many politicians, the President not the least of whom, rely on the ignorance of the general populace to repeatedly build straw men. Most of these are flimsy facades held together with sneering rhetoric, and little factual basis. There are villains in the corporate world, but the vast majority of public companies are not the malevolent actors that they are painted as. Most are afraid of the regulatory clubs that the government wields.

-- Len

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 1, Insightful) 409

With all due respect that an AC deserves, you need to get out of your bubble more.

Wind energy is probably the biggest boondoggle in the last 50 years. From my kitchen table, I can currently see ~350 windmills, and there are nearly 6,000 in a 20 mile radius of my house. Wind energy remains ludicrously expensive, and only makes a profit by using a lot of other people's money. When the tax credits run out, all of the windmills surrounding me are idled.

When oil hit $140 a barrel, about half of the windmills around me were idled. Why is that? Well, each one required a 55 gallon barrel of lubricant, a week. When oil spiked, they were not economically viable, even with the hefty tax credits they earned by just existing. I won't touch the low wind or high wind conditions that also idle the fields. The demand for these wind farms are primarily politically sourced, rather than any reality based economic decision.

Solar may be improving, but they are very far from being cost competitive. The manufacture of hybrid cars share much of the same environmental problems that plague the manufacture of windmills. Rare earths and nickel mines are very problematic, and energy intensive.

Good intentions do not make these things good. Continued research and development may one day make them truly viable, but that day is not on the immediate horizon.

The profit motive of the energy companies is all that they need to invest in new alternatives. They are constantly working against brain-dead regulations dreamed up by science-illiterate politicians, and are always looking at how to best cope with them. If and when any of them come up with an alternative, you can be sure it will be viable, or on course to be economically viable in less than a decade.

Far more is currently gained with energy conservation technologies, rather than alternative energy production. LED lights and Energy Star certifications are great, the former not getting any government money until the L-Prize. The winner of this contest was developed in advance, because Philips saw the path to profits. Prices will drop soon enough, with scaling of manufacture.

-- Len

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 4, Informative) 409

The money is not given away. It is a tax credit for R&D. What you seem to be suggesting is that some types of R&D are more worthy for receiving a tax break. In the larger picture of a national economy, R&D spending prepares for economic growth through either finding ways to lower cost, or produce a better product. It is incentivized in the tax code, to promote economic growth.

Carving out specific areas for different rates, is just meddling. The law of unintended consequences will guarantee that the recipients of these proposed grants will have very little to do with the professed goal. A few years ago, I saw many academic papers tack on the words "with nanotechnology" in an attempt to gain funding. Most of the projects had nothing to do with nano anything. In a similar way, these grants will go to alternative energy shams that have nothing viable in the way of technology, but loads of good intentions.

Why give money to the government to have a small portion given back? This is a policy that is anti-growth, except for governmental growth.

Not sure what free money you are talking about.

-- Len

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 5, Informative) 409

The plan to collect $2 billion from oil and gas revenues is a tax. These companies don't get subsidies for being oil companies. They get tax credits for R&D investment, like any other company in the US. Politicians call these subsidies, like some call tax cuts spending, when a lowering of a tax rate is not an expenditure.

When a politician states that they want to eliminate the subsidies to oil companies, they are talking about not giving them tax credits for R&D, like any other company. As I mentioned in my first post, this R&D is largely in alternative and clean energy research. Removing the tax credits for these energy companies is counter to the professed intention of supporting alternative energy.

-- Len

Comment Hopelessly off-target (Score 5, Insightful) 409

It is unfortunate that government is apt to pursue political solutions rather than viable practical solutions. That's the world we live in.

The premise here is that gas and oil companies should be punished, and their gains should be confiscated and given to other companies with better intentions. The real world truth is that there are no oil or gas companies anymore, and there hasn't been for the last fifteen years, at least.

No, what used to be oil companies have all become energy companies. They all invest heavily in alternative energy technologies, because they have the most to lose if anything does become viable and threatens their current revenue generators. I've spoken with several former CEO's of these former oil companies, and they were, to a person, fixated on the end of oil and the emergence of alternative energy sources. I left these conversations wondering why these CEO's were more pro-alternative than any environmentalist I had ever met.

The government confiscation of funds from these companies, and the eventual redistribution to campaign donors fronting "new" energy companies will only slow down the discovery of practical and sustainable alternative energy sources.

-- Len

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard