Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×

Comment: Re:WIMPs (Score 1) 138

by Rei (#49360117) Attached to: Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

One thing that dark energy can't be is *all* fundamental constants, plus position, velocity, etc scaling up evenly. Because if such was the case then there would be no perceptible change.

If youe saying that for example what is ground state would change too then it seems like you're arguing that things at the quantum level *aren't* moving into higher energy states. But things at the macroscopic level absolutely are moving into a higher energy state. So are you arguing that dark energy doesn't act on the quantum scale? I find that difficult to accept if so.

Comment: Re:WIMPs (Score 4, Interesting) 138

by Rei (#49358535) Attached to: Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

That the thing about dark matter... it has a perfectly reasonable explanation (WIMPs). It's not that weird of a "thing".

Dark energy on the other hand, that's just WEIRD ;) It doesn't act like any "energy" as we know it, even though everything is clearly moving into a higher energy state. A question I've had for a while... if space itself is being inflated (or any sort of mathematically equivalent scenario) - everything inflating in all directions at all scales - wouldn't there be some sort of weak radiation signal from electrons expanding into a higher energy state due to dark energy and then collapsing back down? But I have trouble picturing how to reconcile an absolute, varying distance at the atomic scale with quantization of energy states, positions, etc...

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 1) 338

by Rei (#49358149) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Sure there is: add this to the CPDLC standard and make all of the hardware modifications needed to support it:

----
Message type: Revert flight plan and lock
Message arguments: TIME: the time of the flight plan to use
Message description: Revert to the flight plan that was active at TIME that had been approved by both ground control and the pilot; engage autopilot; and disable all pilot / copilot access to all systems. If there is no approved flight plan then the flight plan is to return to the nearest suitable airport in the most direct route possible.
----

Additional modifications: Make sure that the pilot can never disable datalink communications with ground by any means that ground wouldn't have time to respond to.

Result: Nobody is ever "remote controlling" the plane from the ground. A murderous / terrorist ground controller can't crash the plane, only make it autopilot itself on a previously approved or otherwise reasonable flight plan. A pilot behaving suspiciously can't crash the plane, as ground control will just engage the autopilot and lock them out. To abuse the system both ground and the pilot would have to agree on a suicidal flight plan.

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 1) 338

by smellsofbikes (#49357965) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Would it help much? A rogue pilot has the advantage of surprise. They get the first punch - and with a little luck and some practice, one punch is enough. Lock door, punch unsuspecting attendant in the face, pummel them unconscious before they recover.

Or, as I've posted elsewhere, don't even bother with a physical flight. In the US, where two people are required on the flight deck, all flight personnel are automatically eligible to be Federal Flight Deck Officers, meaning that after taking some amount of training they can carry firearms on the plane with them, and other flight officers/staff are prohibited from asking or knowing that they're carrying weapons. If pilots want to crash a plane, it's not going to be difficult for them to succeed.

Comment: Re:And on Slashdot? (Score 1) 240

by Okian Warrior (#49357111) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

A cost-based scheme might be to bill every house $100/month for connection to the grid, and then substantially drop the price we pay (and are paid) for solar, but that hits the poor too heavily. Also, I think we can make a case that we *want* more solar than is optimal in an strictly economic sense.

That is an informed position, I have no problem with it.

You said that you're arguing with my approach, but I was only pointing out how their approach used psychological trickery to circumvent rational analysis. I realize that there are tradeoffs, and I come to this site specifically to see the tradeoffs and all sides of the story.

It isn't about the tradeoffs, it's about the trickery.

(And for the record, paying an access fee to store energy on the grid seems logical and reasonable. I 'kinda agree with it. Keep an eye out for trickery, though.)

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 1) 338

by smellsofbikes (#49357083) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Much less likely, I'd be more worried about the "depressed narcissistic arsehole" overpowering the stewardess and crashing the plane anyway.

Or just pulling out a gun and shooting the other person in the cockpit, locking the door, and doing the same thing that happened here.
All flight crew members are automatically Federal Flight Deck Officers and are allowed to carry guns on the plane, and other flight officers are prohibited from knowing that their coworkers may be carrying guns.

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 2) 338

by smellsofbikes (#49356917) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Would this not merely cause people to avoid psychiatric care?

In the case of pilots, there is a legal requirement for the pilot to get checked out medically on a regular basis. For US airline pilots the maximum time between medical checkouts is six months.

However, that statement is completely orthogonal to the other problem, which is that many people who could pass a psychiatric assessment kill themselves or others, and a large number of people who would come out of a psychiatric assessment with a big thick file of observed problems are perfectly reliable individuals in their daily lives and would likely be completely competent pilots.

Comment: Re:And on Slashdot? (Score 1) 240

by Okian Warrior (#49355399) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

(2) that anyone disseminating untrue information is an agent of the enemy

"What Muggles have learned is that there is a power in the truth, in all the pieces of the truth which interact with each other, which you can only find by discovering as many truths as possible. To do that you can't defend false beliefs in any way, not even by saying the false belief is useful." (source)

(3) there is no obligation to treat enemy or enemy agents ethically which puts you in the company of a lot of less-than-august characters.

You're extending my position from fairness to ethics and then applying it to people, implying that since I said it was OK to be unfair to a corporation, it's also OK to be unethical to people. And then an ad-hominem attack by putting me in the company of unsavory people.

One definition of ethics is to take actions which minimize the suffering of others. Rooftop solar would likely reduce total suffering much more than bolstering the profits of the energy conglomerate, so I don't see a problem with the ethics.

And why is the argument suddenly about me? Doesn't that deflect discussion away from the original point?

(1) there can be no true information against your base premise

You certainly haven't presented any true information. In fact, you haven't presented any information at all.

Really. Speak to the specific issue (rooftop solar), or the outer issue of (astroturfing) and let's have a discussion.

Comment: And on Slashdot? (Score 2) 240

by Okian Warrior (#49354877) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

I've often wondered how much astroturfing goes on at Slashdot.

Certain news stories come up, and people make the most twisted arguments imaginable to deflect, downplay, or show shades of grey. Sometimes it's from long-term users with varied post histories - are these well-crafted astroturfers, carefully building up a false history to deflect suspicion?

My last remembered example was the one about home solar installations: The panels give unused power to the grid during the day, and the users take power from the grid at night.

The home-solar owner is using the grid as offline storage and not paying for it... and that's not fair.

This is straight from Robert Cialdini's book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion(*). "I'd like to get solar panels for my house, but oh! if I'm being unfair, then the answer's obvious! I can't be unfair now... can I?"

It's a well-crafted argument that halts rational thought by activating an automatic response on the part of the reader... by presenting a point of view that's not particularly obvious, and not something that is actually important to the issue.

(Consider: Do you really care about being unfair to the huge corporate energy conglomerate? And do you think that they would be fair to you in return? And looking forward 50 years, is the world populated by distributed home solar installations *better* than the world relying on monolithic energy production? And if so, won't "being unfair" now help to bring that about?)

This is only one example, I've noticed many sketchy arguments presented here - the Uber controversy seems to be particularly inflated.

We know that big corporate interests will astroturf politicians and regulators by faking letters of support &c (viz: the outpouring of support of the Comcast/TimeWarner merger).

We're a nexus (probably the biggest one) of smart people on the internet. Are there teams of astroturfers trying to shape public opinion?

Has anyone else noticed any particularly suspicious arguments?

(*) Chapter 3, "Commitment and Consistency"

Comment: Re:Memorizing site-unique passwords isn't possible (Score 2) 252

by Rei (#49350175) Attached to: Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess

Yeah, the suggested method for generating passwords generates needlessly long passwords. The total entropy is good, but the entropy per character is pretty poor. You get much better entropy per character with abbreviation passwords, where you have a sentence or group of random words and you use the first letter from each, or second, or last, or alternating, or whatever suits you. It's still not as much entropy per character as a random pattern, but it's much better than writing out full words - and pops into your head just as fast (because it is, in essence, the same).

Comment: Perhaps the problem is with the concept. (Score 1) 157

by hey! (#49349767) Attached to: Many Password Strength Meters Are Downright Weak, Researchers Say

What does "password strength" really mean?

If people used a textual representation of number obtained from a reliable hardware random number generator then the meaning would be unambiguous. It's the number of digits in that number. But most people don't do that (perhaps more should).

So what does it mean to say that a password has so many bits of entropy? Well, I guess it means how many truly random bits it would take to index their password from the universe of passwords the user considered. This is more an exercise in psychology than it is in mathematics. You have to figure out how users generate passwords or discount passwords. For example requiring a mix of upper and lower case letters doesn't add as much entropy as you'd think, because most users are mediocre typists who'll avoid using the shift key too often. Requiring digits means that many people will just "0" for "o" and "1" for "L".

So it's really easy to concoct passwords which you know are bad, because you know the methods used to select which passwords you'd consider; if the developers of the strength meter don't take your particular generation algorithm into account the meter will show the password to be stronger than you know it to be.

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

Working...