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Comment: The other question that needs to be asked (Score 3, Insightful) 409

by pla (#47902477) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint
Was that 99.99% test done on a fire arm that has been used much?

If you check out the pics in TFA, you'll see that not only didn't they test fire this the hundreds of thousands of times it would take to come up with that claim of accuracy - This "proof of concept" wouldn't ever work in a real gun.

Apparently, this genius 17YO knows so little about the functioning of an actual gun that he simply filled the receiver with electronics (because nothing important goes in all that empty space) and produced what amounts a gun-shaped fingerprint reader. Because, y'know, who needs all those silly little things like springs or hammers or firing pins or magazines to also fit inside a working gun?

Comment: Re:Reliability is key. (Score 2) 409

by pla (#47902375) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint
Guns must not be simply reliable. They must be infallible. They must work instantly, every time. Otherwise, any gun is useless. See how fucking idiotic that sounds?

It doesn't sound idiotic at all. Yes, the real world means that you will have some measurable failures-to-fire. Also IN THE REAL WORLD, quality ammo in a well-maintained gun simply doesn't fail. You'll see less than one FTF in a thousand, and that one will only happen after a long day at the range with the gun completely fouled. And even then, a tap-rack-bang will usually clear it (as opposed to a dead battery, which would mean a dead you when you have two seconds before a home invader gets from the door to you).

So yes, guns MUST be as close to infallible as possible. We have to accept the constraints of the real world, but adding a functionally unnecessary point of failure amounts to nothing short of suicidal.

Comment: Re: Great one more fail (Score 2) 409

by pla (#47902305) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint
What I will say is I don't understand why folks are against the development of these sorts of things. As long as it's not government mandated as the only way to get a usable tool then let it compete in the market.

Why? Because at least one state HAS already mandated it - New Jersey passed that one in 2002, and only the lack of any viable commercial tech has blocked the enforcement of such mandates. And worse, Eric Holder (yes, that Eric Holder) publicly stated that he considers NJ's law a model for future NATIONAL policy.

I don't think even the most paranoid gun-nuts have a serious moral objection to safer guns. Until such tech exists as to allow "smart" guns to have four properties, however, I will cling to my dumb ol' guns to my last breath:
1) No batteries.
2) Lower false NEGATIVE rate ("99.99%" from TFA makes a great soundbite but means fuck-all without qualifiers) than a dumb gun's normal failure-to-fire rate (which with quality ammo and a well-maintained gun comes to pretty damned near zero).
3) No slower than existing draw-rack-point-click. I would even say, if fingerprint-based, the sensor MUST go on the trigger itself and detect a thin stripe of index fingertop.
4) No remote disabling, PERIOD. If the police can do it, so can home invaders.

/ OT: Why the hell doesn't bolding work on Beta? And Dice really wonders why we hate it?

Comment: Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (Score 1) 695

by radtea (#47899413) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Science is agnostic. It makes no statements about God, gods or Non-gods. Science doesn't need to place value on anything.

All true, in some strict sense. But...

Science lacks something that gives religion a ridiculous amount of power: narrative. (shameless plug) I wrote a book exploring this subject:

The gist of my argument is--in the terms of TFA--is that "Spockism" lacks narrative hooks, while "Kirkism" is full of them. "Science fiction" is an attempt to give science narrative power, and sometimes it really works, but it needs to be continually renewed because unlike religion science moves and changes and grows, so each generation needs its new Asimov or Heinlein or Clarke.

Comment: Re:Mikrotik (Score 1) 229

by GSloop (#47893803) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities?

Danger Will Robinson!

Do yourself a favor; avoid the hostile Latvians at Mikrotik and use UBNT's Edge Router! [And hey, I've got nothing against Latvians - a colleague is Latvian and the nicest guy ever. Dunno, perhaps it's something in the water, but wow Normis is out there - as are most of the other 'Tik guys.]

Seriously! The feature set of EdgeRouters is pretty full and there's nothing I can't do on ER that I could [and used] on 'Tik.

Plus you get a real Linux underbelly - if you can't do it in the CLI, you can probably find a way to do it in Debian.


Comment: Re:EdgeRouter Lite (Score 1) 229

by GSloop (#47893729) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities?


Seriously. I've used Mikrotik (hostile latvians [check], and buggy firmware [super check] - really the rant list is too long to enumerate here!) and am moving lots of stuff to UBNT.

The edge-router line is frankly totally incredible.
And speaking of VPN - they have an OpenVPN that actually supports the full spec, rather than the totally neutered one 'Tik does.
Real IPSec firewall interfaces! [L2TP where IPSec can get bypassed? Another 'Tik exclusive!]

(Do I sound kind of bitter about 'Tik? :) Yeah, I've got quite a number of people on 'Tik stuff, but given their hostility [it's legendary] and crap firmware [firmware russian roulette anyone!?] and a host of other issues - I'll be glad to have all my clients off onto Ubiquiti's stuff. )

Learning curve is steep, but no more than equivalent products - for example 'Tik, Cisco etc. It's a Vyatta based platform. UBNT's forum is incredible, as are UBNT staff themselves.

Virtually any UBNT product I'd not hesitate to buy. It's *incredible* value.

As for a router on a PC or some other idea...
It's way less power than a franken-PC.
Solid-state disks. [less mechanical failure possibilities]
Massive packet throughput. [1M pps for the $100 ER Lite, 2Mpps for the 8 port versions!] Based on Debian. Rocks.
Damn cheap!
And best of all. Really pretty easy, quick.

Basic stuff won't require a lot of work/time. If you want more, pretty much the sky's the limit. But more fancy stuff will take more time.
But basic functionality - probably a couple of hours start to finish.

Good luck!


Comment: Re:real problem is patent and copyright length (Score 4, Insightful) 107

by radtea (#47893023) Attached to: Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court

The weakening of patent protections mean some small guys will be killed.

Particularly small patent holders that present ideas to big companies, hoping to be bought out, but instead get the shaft.

Nope. A patent is a license to sue. Small players rarely have the resources to do so. A very small number take the risk, fewer still manage it successfully. Pointing to one or two cases where small players were successful is not an argument. You have to look at all patents held by small players, find out how many get violated and what fraction of those use the courts or plausible threat of legal action to defend themselves.

I don't have the numbers, but from an insiders perspective (I am a small patent holder and have worked for a number of small players with patents) I can tell you that the average small player is very unlikely take court action, and that the average large player is unlikely to be much bothered by a threat of patent litigation from a small player, because they know they can simply exhaust the small player's resources.

Comment: Re:Is the expense of electrolysis the main inhibit (Score 4, Informative) 113

by radtea (#47892255) Attached to: Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

The next generation of attempts stores the hydrogen chemically.

I'm not sure if it qualifies as "the next generation" when it has been studied since well before my now-adult children were born.

Skepticism with respect to hydrogen exists in part because some of us have heard this tune before. Storage of hydrogen in metal sponges is nothing new, and they have some very nice theoretical properties, including reasonable volumetric energy density, which is a big problem for hydrogen.

Getting up to 1/5 the volumetric density of fossil fuels--which is the likely upper limit--would make hydrogen cars more than competitive with electric vehicles. But so far no one has managed that, despite continuous work on the problem.

For some reason TFA doesn't say anything about the long history of storing hydrogen in metal sponges, or make clear what makes this one different, although one can guess that as a liquid there are likely metal particles in suspension and that gives a huge surface area advantage.

It's almost as if the articles were written by junior staff members with no actual knowledge of hydrogen storage technology, but since we live in a "knowledge based economy" where STEM skills are in incredibly high demand there is no way reputable news organizations like the BBC would do anything like that, right?

Comment: Re:Why is this legal in the U.S.? (Score 1) 147

by Hadlock (#47890711) Attached to: Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

In particular, Reno/Nevada offered this because it was beneficial to the state over the long term. Other states were also competing for this long term heavy industry by offering similar deals. The factory would have gone to another state if they had not offered this deal and then they would not be the national leader in battery manufacturing + all of it's cottage industries. The building the road part is genuinely a good idea as it adds value to their industrial park and is a good long term investment.

Comment: Re:define "customer" (Score 1) 282

by pla (#47889397) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails
A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

No. Don't mistake "users" for "customers". They do not mean the same thing, and you conflate the two at great risk to your productivity, your profitability, and your sanity.

The fact that random people can read my blog in no way makes them "customers". The fact that Google makes money on their websites while I make nothing and use mine as a soapbox has no relevance - I ignore email from German users too (mostly because I can't read them). Come and get me, polizei!

Comment: Re:Too Bad They Didn't Pull a Lavabit (Score 3, Interesting) 222

by pla (#47886857) Attached to: U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data
It would've gone on long enough for something to happen.

For what to happen, exactly?

"We the People" count as fucking sheep, more concerned with Kardashians than the Constitution. What exactly do you think more awareness of the problem would have gotten us?

The general public now knows about the NSA's spying programs, just like they learned about Bush (senior)'s CIA running the global drug trade to arm the Taliban 30 years ago, just like they learned about J. Edgar's FBI's CoIntelPro 30 years before that, just like they put Joe Kennedy in charge of the SEC 30 years before that. And yet... Do you see Keith Alexander's head on a pike in a conspicuous public place? Do you see the entire agency disbanded for breach of public trust, and everyone who ever worked there rendered unemployable due to the taint on their resumes?

No. No, you don't. Because we deserve the government we have. We exist as a nation run by bread and circuses, and we like it.

/ Dear $Deity - You can send that asteroid any time now... Perhaps the intelligent dragonfly empire 100 million years from now will do better than the domesticated apes did.

Comment: Re:Classic conflict of interest (Score 1) 222

by pla (#47886777) Attached to: U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data
The judges in these kind of cases are appointed by the executive, the same branch of government they are supposed to keep in check.

Remember, kids - Nothing says "legitimate democratic government" like extortionate secret courts!

Un-fucking believable. Well, no, entirely too believable. On the bright side, federal judges get appointed for life, so we have a very straightforward recall procedure.

/ 28 USC section 375, of course - What did you think I meant?

Comment: Re:This article makes no sense whatsoever (Score 5, Interesting) 125

by radtea (#47885657) Attached to: Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

So I take it no one else understands what this article is about either.

In fairness to the writer of the simply hideous article, which is an amazing compendium of misleading nonsense, irrelevancy and outright falsehood, the research team seem to be speaking in a private language. Even their "popular summary" is difficult for a physicist who has done some work in quantum fundamentals to understand.

It appears they have created a fairly standard state in which microwave photons are strongly interacting with each other via a superconductor. Their is for some reason they do not explain and seem to take for granted, a phase transition in the system's behaviour as the number of photons drops.

This may (or may not) be related to the "phase/photon-number uncertainty principle", which is analogous to the usual position/momentum uncertainty principle: you can know the precise classical phase of a many-photon beam or you can know the number of photons in it, but not both at the same time. As the total number of photons goes down the uncertainty in the the number of photons goes down, increasing the uncertainty in the phase (that's one fairly hand-waving way to think about it, at least.)

After the phase transition the system is in some weird quantum state that they liken to Schrodinger's cat, but since Schrodinger's cat is in a perfectly ordinary quantum superposition that knowledge adds exactly nothing to our understanding of what the state actually is. Presumably they are referring to some particular state that is currently well-known within quantum information theory, but by presenting the idea to a lay audience without elaboration they simply add to the overall sense of confusion and, uh, incoherence.

Comment: Re:Seems reasonable (Score 1) 458

by radtea (#47885557) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

and sooner or later, it morphs into something you didn't expect.

Which hasn't (yet) happened in this case, as the current situation was expected and predicted back in the '80's. There was a long article in The Atlantic Monthly in maybe '83 or '84 on precisely the perverse incentives that asset forfeiture laws created for law enforcement.

The reason why things have got so bad is not because no one expected them, but because no one was able to control them given the internal incentives (as others here have pointed out, judges' salaries can be paid in part by seizures, which further corrupts the process.)

Comment: Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (Score 4, Insightful) 458

by radtea (#47884939) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

Please send me a list of approved attire, standards of car cleanliness, and any other requirements for not appearing like a drug dealer.

I believe the primary rules for "not looking like a drug dealer" are:

1) be white
2) be middle-class
3) be middle-age
4) be male
5) be conventional in dress, behaviour and language

And really, if you aren't a white, middle-class, middle-age, conventional male, do you really have anyone but yourself to blame?

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons