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Comment Re:It's like winning the lottery! (Score 4, Informative) 171 171

The browser UI is new, but the rendering engine is still based on Trident. They just removed all the legacy stuff, and focused on clean implementations of the standards without worrying so much about backward compatibility. Edge will puke about as badly as Chrome or Firefox will if fed code and markup intended for IE7, instead of falling back to IE7's rendering style.

Which isn't to say there aren't going to be security bugs, of course. But then, the same is true of all the big browser vendors.

Comment Re:Physics time! (Score 1) 473 473

Yep. Those kinds of experiments get expensive, though. There are only a few systems in the world sensitive enough to reliably (i.e. without risk of error from outside sources) detect thrust on the levels we're talking about, even at 10x the power of the current experiments. Another problem is that they need to cool the thing. It sounds counterintuitive, but cooling stuff in a vacuum (such as they are using for the current rounds of testing, to eliminate the risk of errors due to things like convection currents) is hard. That makes it difficult to run a high-power magnetron.

Comment Re:Physics time! (Score 1) 473 473

Possibly. I don't actually know anything about quantum virtual particles except what I've read related to the theories on how the EM Drive might work. I've got a BS in computer engineering, not a PhD in physics. I can believe that Hawking could have shown that, but I don't know if it has or has not been shown.

Comment Re:Physics time! (Score 1) 473 473

Empirical observations trump theory. Theory is an attempt to explain how the universe works, but it does not dictate the universe's workings. Grad-level physics can explain why the EM Drive shouldn't work. Newtonian physics can explain why GPS shouldn't work, too; and yet the accuracy of the results remain as high as ever.

The problem is, according to everybody who has tested it, the EM Drive does produce thrust. When your theory contradicts reality, it is the theory which is discarded (or at least updated). Unless there's some pervasive experimental error in all of the independent observations of this effect - which is possible, but becomes less likely with each successful reproduction - that will need to happen with our understanding of those grad-level physics you studied.

In that case, on your final, you did the equivalent of computing that if a 1kg object (constant mass, initially at rest relative to you) produces 10^8 N of thrust in a straight line away from you for six seconds, it'll be going at just over twice the speed of light relative to you afterwards. Perfectly consistent with physics as it was near-universally understood until 110 years ago...

Of course, in this case, we have an experimental result before we have a fully consistent theory to explain it. In a reversal from the way much (though not all) recent physics progress has been made, the empiricists appear to be outracing the theorists. That's why right now there are a number of hypotheses, each of which have problems. More experiments will allow us to refine those hypotheses and throw out those which are shown to be incorrect (for example, Guido Fetta - of the Cannae Drive - had a theory that radial slots inside the drive's chamber were required; NASA demonstrated that they weren't). More time will also allow theoretical physicists to work out the underpinnings of how this happens. That will expand our understanding of the universe, give us the tools to predict future experimental results (rather than trying to explain the result after the fact), and open new branches of scientific exploration.

The above paragraph is, of course, predicated on the assumption that the effect does happen. I'm not discarding the possibility of experimental error at this point. It is simply becoming less and less plausible of an explanation.

Comment Re:Physics time! You misunderstand ion drives (Score 1) 473 473

First of all, a horse cannot continuously accelerate given a constant amount of electricity (or even hay). Horses need to push against something (the ground) and can only do that so fast; there is a cap on their maximum velocity. In practice, for any given real-world flywheel and generator, there would be a max speed for an EM Drive-driven rotor too - due to centrifugal force, if nothing else - but there's no theoretical maximum that I'm aware of.

Read david_thornley's comment above for the math. The basic idea is that if you have something which increases its velocity at a constant rate and for constant energy, then its kinetic energy growth will eventually exceed the energy driving it. That's because kinetic energy grows as the square of velocity.

Of course, a conventional rocket could accelerate continuously (unlike a horse) if you could keep it supplied with fuel. That's the big "if", though; the total energy you could get out of it is never more than the rest energy of the fuel you put in. Imagine a total-conversion antimatter rocket, which is probably the most efficient kind of reaction drive possible (since you are literally extracting all the energy possible from a given mass). It produces an incredible amount of energy for the fuel you put in... but at the end of the day, it runs out of fuel (stops accelerating) and you have to put more in, consuming the mass/energy of something from outside the system. It can't run forever without consuming an infinite amount of mass.

The EM Drive has no fuel requirement at all. Electricity isn't a thing that can be consumed, it's a process, the motion of electrons. A generator can keep applying (electromotive) force to those electrons, keeping them moving forever as long as there's an energy input to the generator itself. The EM Drive can keep producing thrust as long as it has electricity. Once you reach the break-even point, no outside mass/energy is required.

Comment Honest question. (Score 1) 80 80

Can someone explain why the program handling interaction with assorted media files would be so closely linked to the rest of the system working? I understand that parsing the ghastly mess of different standard and pseudo-standard formats out there, as poorly or even maliciously interpreted by various 3rd parties, is a difficult and dangerous task; so I'm not surprised by the fact that there is a bug in the media component; but if it is known to do such a dangerous job why isn't it compartmentalized more aggressively? Why does losing the mediaserver process make a mess of the phone, rather than just causing it to mark the file that killed it as tainted, restart the process, and carry on?

Comment Re:Old news is so exciting (Score 1) 80 80

The article named the phone as the Motorola C123. Apparently that model has an atypically well-understood baseband, which is probably why it was picked; but that handset is dumb as a rock except by comparison to the utter antiques from the age of analog cellular or something. I don't even think it has one of the teeny little JREs that phones used to have.

Comment Re:Wrong question. (Score 1) 330 330

I think that it works both ways: the campaign gets face time and spending money from assorted big names in tech because of the hope that it will make programmers cheaper; but it gets buy-in from educators and parents and politicians looking for feel-good photo ops because of the hope that somehow every kid can be a well paid knowledge worker.

Compare to H1-Bs. Those are similarly favored as a way to drive labor costs down; but are more or less politically toxic; so they have none of the popular chatter. The major tech employers are in favor of both; but only one has the buzz in the other direction as well.

Comment Wrong question. (Score 3, Interesting) 330 330

These 'zOMG, everyone should STEM up and become an app entrepreneur!!!' stories aren't really about the desirability of everyone having a career in software development. They are more a reflection of the fact that plucky optimists looking for what kids should do to be successful when they grow up are...not exactly...swimming in options. Yes, they are also letting the fascination with shiny trendy things distort their perception of the options, hence the fascination with who will make the next Social Twitfriend app, rather than who will write unbelievably dull line of business stuff; but in broader strokes they aren't pushing this because it's a good idea, they are pushing it because it's an idea, and they don't have another one.

The pronouncement that 'software is eating the world' may have been a bit hyperbolic; but it sure isn't doing the life chances of people without advanced qualifications any favors. "Everyone writing apps" sounds slightly better than "Everyone selling each other securitized bullshit", so it gets more face time.

Comment Re: A plea to fuck off. (Score 1) 364 364

SMS-based approaches are certainly better than passwords alone; but I have a few areas of dislike for them:

They require an active cell link and a live phone, so are bad news if you are trying to log in in the bowels of some structure, with a phone that has a dead battery, or while travelling outside your non-ridiculously-priced service area. It also tends not to be a problem in practice; but SMS is 'best-effort', so if the system is being flaky then that's just too bad. Essentially, it isn't a 'second factor' at all; but a secondary channel that is assumed not to be compromised.

Then there is the matter of the site needing your phone number. For some applications, that doesn't matter: your bank already knows way more than that about you, say. For others, I'm not so enthusiastic about providing a relatively persistent, and spammable, identifier(also fairly robustly tied to me by payment data, unless I get a burner specifically for dealing with auth issues) to any lousy little website that wants it.

Finally, I'm not terribly confident about the medium-term security of SMS if it becomes a common '2 factor' authentication method. Mobile OSes tend to be a bit more locked down than desktops; but hardly infallible, and the security of SMS gateway providers(who sites using SMS auth presumably employ to interface with the phone network) is an unknown and possibly not comforting factor.

RSA fobs are ultimately an inferior option because they cannot be safely shared across multiple systems, and carrying a fistful of the things is ridiculous(plus, the pricing is usurious); but smartcard/NFC cryptographic authentication has none of these weaknesses. The hardware is cheap, it doesn't require a secondary channel to be available, certificates are relatively tiny so you can carry an enormous number of them without issue; and you can implement certificate auth with varying levels of connection with user 'identity'. On the relatively anonymous side, the user can just generate a keypair and send the public key when they create an account. Trivially handled on the client end, no interaction with outside entities. At the other extreme, hierarchical PKI systems make it possible to robustly verify the user's affiliation with a given organization if the situation requires it. The trouble, of course, is the lack of card readers/NFC pads on a lot of contemporary computers and mobile devices. A great pity.

Comment There are LOTS of projects with these problems (Score 2) 115 115

"How would an experienced developer get these problems in the first place?"

A lot of projects do not follow widely-accepted best practices... even if they are experienced... and that is a problem!

A remarkable number of OSS projects fail to have a public source control system (#2). That includes many established projects that everyone depends on. Actually, a number of OSS projects - and projects that people THINK are OSS but are not (because they have no license) - fail many of these points. It's not that Red Hat's internal processes are immature; Tom was trying to bring in software from someone else (Google in this case) and was fed up by the poor practices from people who should know better.

Yes, #7 refers to a best practice (let people pick their install directory) that's been around for at least 20 years and probably much longer, but it's still widely NOT followed.

Anyway, that's Tom's point; there are a lot of widely-accepted best practices that are NOT followed, and that needs to change.

Comment Re:And why do they still need to prove this? (Score 1) 80 80

Unfortunately, as our fine folks in the TAO group have apparently proven on multiple occasions, even people with fancy access control tend to have very little power until the package shows up at their loading dock. What happens earlier in the process is less encouraging.

Comment Re:Old news is so exciting (Score 5, Insightful) 80 80

It isn't conceptually novel; but doing a practical TEMPEST attack with nothing but a dumbphone, with a fairly unobtrusive software modification, rather than a relatively classy SDR rig or some antenna-covered fed-van is a nice practical refinement.

Really, how many 'tech news' stories are actually conceptually novel, rather than "Thing you could lease from IBM for the GDP of a small country in the 60s and 70s, or buy from Sun or SGI for somewhere between the price of a new house and the price of a new car in the 80s and early 90s, is now available in a battery powered and pocket sized device that shows ads!" Conceptual novelty has a special place, of course; but one ought not to scorn engineering refinement.

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