Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Back for a limited time - Get 15% off sitewide on Slashdot Deals with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Relay Logic (Score 1) 620

I do industrial control systems, and while most of it is modern SCADA systems, we still occasionally use good old fashion ice-cube Relay Logic. As in actual magnetic coils pulling mechanical contacts closed, stuck in a box somewhere and arranged in tangled-looking webs to create basic AND/OR Control Logic. This is often the preferred method any time Life-Safety what's being controlled. You have to limit possible Failure Modes, and in those environments the complexity of any modern computer system is actually working against you.

Comment Exponential Birthdays (Score 1) 126

Every time somebody I know turns an age that is a "round" number in my head I get a special nerd-glee. Squares and Cubes do it, for example: 9,16, 27, 64 etc.

l also enjoy hiding the Fibonacci Sequence in things, just to see who notices.

On my 27'th birthday I got a "Happy Birthday" message with Fibonacci exclamation points. I was most pleased.

Comment Casual Access and Listen to the Users (Score 2) 167

I was a member of the Techshop maker-space here before it folded. The thing that did them in was a lack of casual accessibility, as well as an overambitious start, I think. The way they structured it was to charge large fees for "training" classes to clear you on the use of the various pieces of equipment, after which you were free to use them so long as you were a current member. But it would take several classes and hundreds of dollars to get even a small project off the ground, simply because of the way they mapped out the different class certifications. They were a business so it's expected, and the need for proper safety training is undeniable. But it meant that it took a serious investment before you could accomplish much, and those dedicated enough to do so would generally rather spend the money on their own tools. And on top of that they opened their doors with everything from CNC mills and 3D printers to automotive decal printers to SMB circuit board ovens to metal casting; in other words far more expensive equipment than their user-base actually needed or used.

At the end of the day, there are two things to strive for, and they wont be easy.

The first is variety of tools and workspaces. It needs to be a place where people come to tinker and to get some idea out of their heads and into reality. So it needs to offer access to whatever it is that the actual local users are wanting to use. If they want metalworking, get a welder and a few milling machines. If they want woodworking, get some drill presses and chop saws. But dont invest it the cutting edge of everything up front. I recommend some kind of request system, so it can organically grow in the directions the users want. If they see the space is responsive to what they feel they are lacking, it will also go a long way to keeping them coming back, even if they dont have every little thing at first. This will be a balancing game between responsive acquisition and responsible budgeting. Fundraising drives can help, just like a high school that needs a new scoreboard, etc.

The second is casual Accessibility. Dont make them spend a hundred bucks and take a class that won't be held again for two weeks, just so they can drill a single hole. This is another balancing act between responsible safety and easy access, and the first solution is staff.

It also really helps to have a large scrap pile for free (or free-ish) materials.

Comment One good turn... (Score 5, Insightful) 235

Finally gets another. One guy does something selfless, and another guy does too as a reward. Especially since in an auction he's not just covering the cost, he's running the price up with his participation in the bidding. When everything i read seems to drop Humanity notch-by-notch, it's nice to see something that bumps it up a bit. Kudos Human Race.


Submission + - Laser Creates Quantum Whirlpool (

Quantus347 writes: Physicists at The Australian National Univ. (ANU) have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons. Polaritons are hybrid particles that have properties of both matter and light. The ability to control polariton flows in this way could aid the development of completely novel technology to link conventional electronics with new laser- and fiber-based technologies. Polaritons form in semiconductors when laser light interacts with electrons and holes (positively charged vacancies) so strongly that it is no longer possible to distinguish light from matter.

Comment Investment? (Score 2) 50

As somebody who designs networks of sensors and controls for manufacturing processes, I want to know what the investment was, and what payback period they are using to calculate those savings. Depending on the size of the plant $9 million might not even come close to covering that kind of mass retrofit.

Comment Re:This is not entirely what it appears in summary (Score 1) 560

Unless I missed it (I know I broke Slashdot rules and actually read the ruling) I dont think he had actually admitted to the crimes themselves, only that he did admit that he was in possession of the Encryption Key. Presumably they already had compelling evidence of the crime itself or they wouldn't have been investigating him in the first place.

From the Ruling:
On the day of his arrest, the defendant was interviewed by law enforcement officials after having
been advised of the Miranda rights. In response to questioning, he said that he had more than one
computer in his home. The defendant also informed the officials that "[e]verything is encrypted
and no one is going to get to it." In order to decrypt the information, he would have to "start the
program." The defendant said that he used encryption for privacy purposes, and that when law
enforcement officials asked him about the type of encryption used, they essentially were asking for
the defendant's help in putting him in jail. The defendant reiterated that he was able to decrypt
the computers, but he refused to divulge any further information that would enable a forensic

Comment Re:So whats the case law on keys (Score 2) 560

Not quite, but you are making a good point. According to The Ruling the only reason the motion was filed and this issue came at all up was because the guy happened to have used a particularly effective encryption software that the State was unable to circumvent. But they tried and would have been perfectly allowed to use any of the information found had they succeeded. Which is like saying that the 5th amendment would protect the contents of my safe, but only if I can afford a top-of-the-line one.

Comment Digital vs Physical (Score 4, Insightful) 560

I get the legalese argument the guy as trying to make and the narrow line they tried to draw with the ruling, but Im not sure why it even got past the original judge.

If it had been the exact same situation, just a combination lock on on physical file cabinet in his office, once a proper court subpena was issued Law Enforcement might have asked for the combination as a courtesy but would have been perfectly within their rights to simply cut the thing open. And if they found evidence of some unrelated crime, that is long been fair game just like a drug bust during a traffic stop.

Maybe it's different by State, I dont know

Comment Nothing to do with "Liberating form Power cords" (Score 2) 130

This "new" supercapacitor has nothing to do with liberating devices from Power Cords. Supercapacitors still need to be externally charged. All this development does is make them a bit more resilient than current model when in more rugged environment, and supposedly make it where we used supercapacitors as structural components. In other words your car would not have a separate battery to replace, because it's frame itself would be used to store electricity. While the creator seems to think that is the wave of the future, I dont see it as a particular good (or cost effective) idea.

Comment And Fire qualifies for many definitions of Life (Score 5, Insightful) 401

The fact that a smartphone (Or I assume by extension any personal computer) can qualify should be an indcator that the test itself is flawed. Just like how many early definitions of Life applied to Fire (breaths, eats, grows, responds to outside stimuli, etc) even though it is just a chemical reaction.

Quark! Quark! Beware the quantum duck!