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Comment Re:Dell (Score 1) 237

I got mine as a refurb from woot so I didn't have the option- but the microsoft tax is not all that big relative to the cost of the laptop, I think that you might save $50- if you're buying a $2000 laptop, that may be in the noise. I decided that there are some times that I may need windows (sometimes you can't get around it), so I decided to get another mSATA drive, and I'll just swap the whole drive when I need to go Microsoft.

I do like it- especially the screen- it's beautiful. I tried an XPS13- the combination of limited memory (8G, soldered down, so not expandable) and a 13" UHD screen made it not as desirable. Still beautiful, but there are enough programs out there that do not scale text size, It is a 13" laptop and a 13" screen, especially for development, it is still awfully small. The precision also has a more USB ports- while thicker and heavier, it is still a better option for development.

Comment Re:Dell (Score 1) 237

I've got one- one of the few laptops I could find that had the capability of 16G and the UHD display. Ubuntu 15.04 installed fine, but I did have to do some fiddling to get the Wifi going. Still haven't gotten bluetooth working right. Doesn't have a built-in wired ethernet port- which can make things a pain. Definitely has issues with sleep/suspend- sometimes it wakes up, sometimes not, often it starts, but the Wifi chooses not to start.

Comment Re:Its all in the taxes and incentives. (Score 1) 211

The OP actually did specifically refer to the damage to the 'bulk electric system' which I believe was referring to the grid. No matter. A serious frequency/phase excursion can FUBAR the grid. If you FUBAR the grid of a modern country,that country is pretty much instantly moved to 3rd world status, particularly if the equipment needed to manufacture the necessary parts to repair the system are themselves powered by the grid. Big transformers are not a part that is kept on the shelf in a ready to install state, at least not in any volume. Even in small scale incidents, repairs are costly and time consuming.

Comment Re:Its all in the taxes and incentives. (Score 1) 211

You're right if you're considering just the end-users, but absolutely, incredibly wrong when you consider the entire grid. When different portions of the grid are out of phase, they start fighting each other- look at it in terms of just Ohms law- when all the voltages are exactly in phase, the difference in voltage between the generators is zero- so because V=I*R, the current between the generators is zero. Add a little bit of phase difference, the instantaneous voltage difference is no longer zero, so current will flow between the generators, since by the nature of a power grid, the R factor is very, very, very low, you can get an enormous current with a small difference. Most power generation facilities are only designed to source power, not sink (absorb) it- but that power has to go somewhere. If your equipment is fast enough, fuses, breakers blow. If not fast enough or it just comes on too fast, all that energy gets shoved into pieces of the infrastructure like wires and transformers, and when the energy gets added to the system faster than it can be taken away BOOM , the catastrophic damage happens. And the things that blow up are not things that can be replaced easily- big transformers can take months to years between order and delivery. If a single event destroys a lot of the infrastructure, it could be years before the grid is restored.

So yeah, it can be catastrophic.

Comment Not about security- it's shifting liability to you (Score 1) 148

With all the password hacks/cracks/thefts, my cynicism has led me to believe that password policies are not about protecting the user, they are about protecting the company. With every damn website and store loyalty program asking you to create an account, it's to the point of absurdity. But they tell you that you need to create a unique password, of course. The uniqueness is not there to protect the user, it's to protect the company from liability when their crappy data policies (storing passwords in plain text in a file protected by changing the robots.txt rules, etc) lead to a data breach. "Oh, the password that was stolen from our yahoo storefront for customized puppy faced iphone cases, and allowed Elbonian hackers to drain your bank account and charge child porn to your credit card? We told you not to reuse passwords- it isn't our fault you're now a felon on a sexual predator list."

Comment Often happens with small planes (Score 1) 373

As stated elsewhere, weight and balance are important in a plane, and accidents have happened as a result. I've taken a number of small plane commuter flights in the US and they regularly asked how much I weighed, and they definitely weighed my baggage. The smaller the plane is, the more it matters.

Safety is one aspect, efficiency is another- knowing how much you weigh also tells the airline how much fuel they must put on board, and even how much cargo they can safely take- much cargo flies on a space (weight) available basis.

Hell yeah, I want them to know how much weight is on the plane.

Comment Jamming... (Score 1) 97

Because this requires jamming the original signal, this is detectable, otherwise, it is MITM. Jamming is typically very easy- you just have to generate enough energy to overcome the incoming signal- the difficult part is being able to intercept the signal in the presence of your own noise. There are ways to cancel out the noise (like noise cancellation headphones)- but it is a really hard problem, even if you know the exact "noise" you're putting out.

This may push us faster into better types of keys, such as keys with 2-way radios, or even get us out of keys altogether, incorporating the key into one of the other devices we may have on us. We haven't had those keys commonly because of the expense of the technology- technology will progress, and so will the hacks.

Submission + - Remote exploit on a production vehicle to be presented at BlackHat (

Matt_Bennett writes: A scary remote exploit is going to be published that enables someone connected to the the same wireless (mobile data) network to take over many systems, including braking. This is an exploit in Chrysler's Uconnect system. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek also demonstrated exploits in 2013 that could be done via a direct connection to the system, but this is vastly expanded in scope.

Comment Re:Let me put my skepticism hat on... (Score 1) 169

Biased? Maybe, I don't know enough about the economics of the situation- what I'm glad to see is that this is a tool that gives some insight to the true costs of nuclear power- as it is a model, it is incomplete (like all models), but it gives a place to start, to improve, and most importantly, to compare to other models.

For our society to survive, we need energy- lots of it. And it's going to cost us in lots of ways. But if we are going to get capital investment, we have to convince the holders of that capital that their investment will have an acceptable return over their timeline. Acceptable means a lot of different things- to some "what will my retirement account look like when I want to retire?" To others, "how will it affect my stock price next quarter?" And so on... No matter what, every means of energy production has costs. What I hope is that a tool like this will be updated, improved, and applied to all the alternatives so we have a chance of making choices not based on fear of the unknown or the marketing campaign of someone who wants to sell a resource that they have a monopoly on.


Kim Stanley Robinson Says Colonizing Mars Won't Be As Easy As He Thought 228

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from io9: Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy filled us all with hope that we could terraform Mars in the 21st century, with its plausible description of terraforming processes. But now, in the face of what we've learned about Mars in the past 20 years, he no longer thinks it'll be that easy. Talking to SETI's Blog Picture Science podcast, Robinson explains that his ideas about terraforming Mars, back in the 1990s, were based on three assumptions that have been called into question or disproved:

1) Mars doesn't have any life on it at all. And now, it's looking more likely that there could be bacteria living beneath the surface. 2) There would be enough of the chemical compounds we need to survive. 3) There's nothing poisonous to us on the surface. In fact, the surface is covered with perchlorates, which are highly toxic to humans, and the original Viking mission did not detect these. "It's no longer a simple matter," Robinson says. "It's possible that we could occupy, inhabit and terraform Mars. But it's probably going to take a lot longer than I described in my books."

Comment Re:Despicable tactic, but... (Score 1) 266

Once upon a time, the medical opinion about ulcers was that they were caused by stress, it was not until 1994 that the NIH published the opinion that most ulcers were caused by Helicobacter pylori, and in 2005 the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to Marshall and Warren. About the first time I heard about antibiotics curing ulcers was by a radio call-in doctor (an actual MD) in the mid-80's- he also preached about a cure for asthma involving long term antibiotics. It may be only applicable to specific types of asthma- but there has been very little research into this cure (admittedly, there are real risks to long term antibiotic usage)- which involves not a new medicine, but the administration of an existing medicine.

Unfortunately, it is an economic decision by the drug maker- continue with an existing, proven (multi billion dollar/year) revenue stream, or risk that revenue stream by developing a treatment with a very small revenue potential (I believe your estimates for the cost are *way* higher than the market would bear).

The unfortunate part is that health care is not about health first, it is about money first.

Comment Re:Despicable tactic, but... (Score 2) 266

Well, if you accompany discontinuing the product with publicity about how dangerous it was (but then take the medicine, tweak the formula slightly, and re-release), nobody will be able to make the generic in a profitable way. This happened with Glaxo and Salmeterol inhalers (sold as Serevent). Like any other drug, it is dangerous when not used properly. I found it was the only drug that relieved my asthma symptoms (the discussion about how it is far more profitable to treat as opposed to cure asthma is something for another time)

Always very expensive, but shortly before it was to turn generic, it was discontinued. They then combined Salmeterol with a steroid, re-released it, and continued to make a huge amount of money off of it. It has since lost patent protection, but no company is willing to make a generic, for fear of lawsuits I'm sure. Glaxo can afford a reasonable defense, but I'm sure the generic companies don't have the profit margins to be able to afford the risk of a suit.

Comment Please don't get an MBA (Score 4, Insightful) 317

An MBA is a vehicle to convince other people that have MBAs that you believe that an MBA is necessary to work with other people that have MBAs that share in the misguided notion that having an MBA qualifies you to manage a business. Really, it is a ticket into a network of folks that believe that shortcuts and not actual work create a business.

Most certifications are like MBAs- except that they are shortcuts for HR resume screens, who use them as an easy filter and to avoid accountability that the people that they let through are qualified... "these applicants are CERTIFIED!" ... If you have the experience and you know someone, you will get the job, if not, you're in the pool of "everyone else" that has a certification. The most important factor in getting a job is networking.

Comment Re:On the other hand... (Score 1) 700

No, that's not how CDC drivers work under Windows. Even *if* you work with the standard microsoft CDC drivers, you still need a signed .inf file, and you have to get that through the WHQL process. FTDI used their own drivers because the built in CDC driver from Microsoft was an unreliable POS (historically).

There can be no twisted thought without a twisted molecule. -- R. W. Gerard