Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Read Slashdot (Score 3, Interesting) 479

by Rogue974 (#47977661) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

What sabri says is so true about the way you answer questions. I have recently been involved in trying to hire a controls engineer and one of the more important things I do is look for someone to say I don't know. I introduce myself at the start of a phone interview and let people know I am a controls engineer and I work on our systems, i.e. I am a technical person, not an HR person who has a list of questions.

Then the interview starts. Every few questions, I hit the candidate with a very technical question. I have a list of about 40 questions that I doubt tere are many people who would know all of the answers off the top of their head. Usually something very specific to our system. I expect the person to not be able to answer the question unless they have very strong experience with the same kind of system as we have. The answer I am looking for is something like:

I haven't worked on that, but I am confident that I could learn how that works.
It has been a long time since working on that. I remember this *insert simple, short explanation*, but know that if I looked it up in this reference text or googled it, it would come back to me.

That would usually lead to a follow up question about something that they learned about to reinforce that they feel they could learn it.

I had several candidates attempt to make up an answer and snow me. A few follow up questions and they usually figure out I know about it and they can't snow me. Usually it is too late though. I will give them a couple of chances with very difficult questions like this, but if they don't figure it out quickly and figure out the be honest piece, no chance I want to hire them.

If they have an advanced degree and apply for the jobs I am looking to fill, they don't even get interviewed because I know we won't be able to meet their salary and/or they will look to leave too quickly and I am looking for longer term candidates. I don't want to hire and train every 2-3 years.

Comment: Re:Welcome to the Information Age! (Score 2) 144

by Rogue974 (#47730191) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

I agree with you. I am a Controls Engineer. Until recently, my controls security was decades behind. Fortunately, Stuxnet happened, our CEO noticed the news stories and started asking questions and took an interest. A small group of controls engineers and an IT person who also did the controls network at the small plants he supports made a team, did research, made recommendations and were given money to start securing our network properly.

We need to start realizing security through obscurity is no security at all and make the changes starting with the vendors all the way through the end users.

A huge problem I have experienced is actually a lack of understanding of security and networking on the part of controls engineers, and a lack of understanding of controls systems by IT staff. I think this is actually one of the biggest problems that creates the security problems. Every place I have worked at or in (did a stint as a contract CE and went many places) there is a stand off between controls and IT. Controls knows what we need to do to make our system work and IT tries to tell us how we have to do things and they don't realize that it is not the same as a buisness network because it will shut the plant down to do some things they would like us to. CEs don't understand enough to secure the networks themselves so we do the best we can and keep IT away from our stuff and muddle through.

We need education on both sides so controls people know what they need to do and IT people who understand the differences between business networks and controls networks. Unfortunately, of all the IT professionals I have worked with, only 2 have understand the controls world enough, or been willing to even listen) to help so we just shut them out. I would much rather work with IT and not have to learn all of this security stuff myself when we have IT professionals who know the security. Granted, they probably don't want to learn about my world the same way I would rather not have to learn theirs, so we are right back at the stand off.

Comment: Controls Engineering (Score 1) 158

I am a Controls Department Manager. Controls Engineering is that discipline that programs the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Distributed Controls Systems (DCS) that talk to all of the instrumentation in an industrial plants.

Our Operator Interfaces are typically Windows boxes, or vendor specific OS and are tied to a LAN so they can talk to the controls systems. In addition, we are starting to get more and more I/O that is Ethernet I/O (plug in an e-net cable and talk to it that way).

Add to the fact that IT departments at many companies don't get the difference between a business network environment and controls environment and many controls engineers have to learn enough IT to maintain their own network and hardware. At the 3 companies I have worked at in the past 14 years, each company I found few IT personnel who understood what I do enough to help and many more that wanted to do things on my network that would simply just shut down the production lines so I just learn to do it myself with help of those few that understand the production needs.

Comment: Re:Well Duh! (Score 1) 174

by Rogue974 (#47099261) Attached to: Organic Cat Litter May Have Caused Nuclear Waste Accident

I was going to say pretty much the same thing. This article isn't really a slam on environmental, or an attack of nuclear, this appears to me to be EXACTLY what you wrote. Purchasing decided to make a change to what was being purchased and didn't understand the reason why something was spec'd as such.

I get regular calls from purchasing because they found something cheaper that they think will work perfectly well as a replacement for part X. Every time we go through the exercise, we find 1 of 3 things:

1) The item they found is cheaper for a reason. Purchasing missed that part of the spec calls for something for a reason they they have no clue what it even means so they do not realize the cheaper thing does not meet the spec.
2) They didn't even bother to look at the spec, just figured it would work the same.
3) they don't realize that changing to have 1 or 2 of these of a different brand while it will save a few thousand dollars, will deviate from plant standard and will end up costing us 10x+ the savings of the purchase because we do not have spare parts or training on how to fix this one.

*Rant Ended*

Comment: Re:Specialized Pieces (Score 1) 355

by Rogue974 (#46773709) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

I hear your first comment ALL of the time and even seen it published in a newspaper....not so much about the mindstorm.

Every time someone says this, I always want to say, you obviously don't have kids do you? I have 4 ages 10-13 and they get all the sets with all of the specialized pieces. Aside from my one son's Darth Vader Tie fighter set that stayed together for about 3 years before getting broken down, every other set they have with all of the crazy fancy specialized pieces are broken down in several bins or in their current work of Lego.

Specialized pieces did not destroy kids imaginations or hamper their ability to build in the slightest. They work just as well getting put into something else that has nothing else to do with it what they were designed for. My daughter has a whole made up factory with employees, break room, work area, specialized pieces from 3 or 4 different types of legos sets all over the place, none of the sets were originally a factory or lego town set. That factory has grown and changed several ways and lasted for a year.

Comment: Re:To be fair... (Score 0) 653

by Rogue974 (#46525919) Attached to: $30K Worth of Multimeters Must Be Destroyed Because They're Yellow

I agree they look like a Fluke. I saw the picture and thought it was a Fluke until I looked closer.

One of the commentators on the story brought up the fact that this meter looks enough like a fluke, but it not rated for the same power as a Fluke. I know I grab my Fluke, I am good up to a voltage way above the 120 or 220 I might use it on. That thing would probably burst into flames if used. So if that ends up on a workbench next to a good Fluke, gets used, blows up, then Fluke is blamed. I guess I can see why they would want to protect their image here.

The story statement of the yellow color being trademarked though makes me think of the apple rounded corners things, which I don't agree with. Not sure where to fall on conflicted!!!

Comment: Re:Call me paranoid... (Score 1) 305

by Rogue974 (#46299213) Attached to: Why Your Phone Gets OTA Updates But Your Car Doesn't

1) Wait until USB updates for cars are the norm
2) Send USBs that infect the cars with viruses and then they will crash at predetermined time
3) Send blackmail notices that arrive when a certain number of cars throw themselves off the highway at high speed actives
4) Profit


1) Wait until USB updates for cars are the norm
2) Put USB sticks in mail to rich people who's cars you want to boost
3) Wait until they plug it in and have the car unlock itself and then start up at a time you want to boost it, like when they are at the office and you are waiting outside
4) Profit

Or just go tin foil hat and realize that terrorist can follow this and program all cars when the get over 70 miles an hour to accelerate and then cut the wheel all the way to cause mass destruction. How many people would see it and plug it in not realizing they just infected their car OS with a killer bug.

Cars need to not be hackable and the more we connect them, the more hackable they become. USB isn't as bad as connecting them, but it is trusting that granny or Joe blow will know, "This USB looks like a fake" and not plug it in. We can't convince them not to open email attachments from people they don't know, how will we stop this.

Comment: Re:^This (Score 0) 375

by Rogue974 (#44992817) Attached to: Students Hack School-Issued iPads Within One Week

If I had mod points, you would get them all! The first and most effective step to improving our education system would be to get rid of the public sector unions. Public sector unions are to the education system what lobbyists are to the government. Public Sector Unions should be illegal and done away with.

Making Public Sector Unions illegal and then you can start reforming education in ways that will actually work.

Comment: Re:Kind of a warning sign actually (Score 4, Insightful) 362

Look at your list of Facebook friends if you use it. How many of them have anything to do with your credit worthiness or do you have any idea about their financial lives?

Do you have any high school friends on there? A friend you knew when you were 14 who was cool then but has since become a dead beat? You both share a hobby that you shared at 14 so still talk about that a lot and you should be dinged for his bad decisions?

You have a couple of brothers/cousins/family members who have made horrible financial decisions and declared bankruptcy a couple of times. You have done everything right and are responsible financially and so you are penalized for that?

You join a club quilting club with a FB page and meet a bunch of people and several of them that are active quilters are doing so while foreclosing on their homes and so you deny me a loan?

If the company has no financial information to go off, maybe I can see this being valid, but still a stretch. If you read the article, this company operates in the Philippines, Mexico and I forget the last country. Places where they have very little information to go off so thy use what they can. Judged by the company you keep on FB is ludicrous.

Comment: Re:Don't wanna be first... (Score 4, Interesting) 282

A quick search reveals this:

And their math says 165,000 miles per accident for a person.

This one below says 5.7 crashes per million miles driven for women and 5.1 crashes per million miles. That gives you 175K or women and 196,078 for men. A bit off from the first, but not too far off.

There are a few other links. So while you say 300,000 miles without a single at fault incident is not that good, it is almost twice what people do from the articles I can find.

While having any accidents will trigger panic and people screaming how terrible this is and how it should be banned, if people examine the data it says that at the present 300K we would reduce accidents by nearly 30%-50%. If it goes to 600K without an incident, we just reduced accidents and deaths to 25-30%% of what they were.

Comment: I have a bad feeling about this... (Score 1) 205

by Rogue974 (#44641625) Attached to: US Gov't To Issue Secure Online IDs

I could not help but think....

Three Master Keys for the Agencies under the Executive
Seven for the Security Council in the Congress Hall
Nine for the Justice supporting no warrants
One for the President on his Dark Throne
In the Land of States where Freedom dies
One Key to Rule rule them all, One Key to silence them
One Key to subject them all and in subjugation bind them
In the Land of States where Freedom dies

Comment: Re:It's not so simple... (Score 1) 209

by Rogue974 (#44629609) Attached to: San Francisco Fire Chief Bans Helmet-Mounted Cameras For Firefighters

I will preface this by saying, I am a volunteer fire fighter. Been in the middle of things fighting fires, responding to medical emergencies and training. Sometimes caught on camera, sometimes not.

Should firefighters be rescuing people and fighting fires or d*cking around with their GoPro to get cool Youtube videos?

You haven't watched many fire fighter videos have you? It is extremely rare that the person recording is at all concerned about what they are recording. They are normally just doing their job and catching what gets caught. If they are taking time to get cool shots, it means it is training or the scene is 100% secure and controlled. In an active fire fighting situation or when you have someone on the group they are trying to save their life, it is not normal that any fire chief will turn all hollywood camera man. They catch the video and then share it with other fire fighters in training activities and point out what went well and what went horribly wrong. I have sat through many hours of watching helmet cam video of situations. Almost every single video is 15+ minutes long with 60%+ of the video useless because the camera is pointed at the ground or at something not the fire and the view bounces all over the place because the person is doing their job, not trying to get the good shot. Firefighters are trained to do their jobs not take video. You get in an emergency and your training kicks in and you do what you are trained to do and pay attention to the emergency.

As medical responders, what about HIPPA? Does a person have the right to call for help secure in the knowledge that the rescuer won't be spreading helmet-cam footage of their nude mangled body across the Internet or news?

Fire fighters videos are rarely spread out for public to see without department scrutiny first. If you see something like this, it is more then likely the news media. Also, in a purely medical situation, they usually don't wear helmet cams.

I wonder if "...respond to 1234 Main Apartment 3 for a 34 year old female suicide attempt via overdose..." is broadcasting just a bit too much personal medical info.

No, it is not. Would you rather they do not give a location and the paramedics play a guessing game? I will just drive around until someone flags me down. Or how about, when I arrive, I guess what the problem is and if I guess wrong, have to run back out to the ambulance because I brought the wrong equipment. Maybe I can leave out the age and sex of the person down...guess not because both have a bearing on how you treat the situation. Maybe we do it all via cell phone or wireless ethernet to their laptop? Yeah, not sure much, neither are reliable enough. They broadcast what the need to in order to best handle the situation. They are trained on what to say and how to say it. Communication is one of the most important things in emergency situation. They know what they need to do.

Comment: Re:unfathomable (Score 2) 390

by Rogue974 (#44390089) Attached to: Hackers Reveal Nasty New Car Attacks

There is a side you may be missing with instrumentation and controls systems. I don't work on automotive, but I work on industrial controls systems and converting a system from pneumatic (like an old braking system) to electronic (new braking system) in my world dramatically increases equipment reliability. While you do have the extra failure mode of the cars computer, the components of the new system are orders of magnitudes more reliable then the components of the old system. My industrial controls electrical systems mean time between failure when running 24/7/35 is 31+ years. The pneumatic style are maybe 5-10 years mean time between failure. Not sure exactly how this translate to automotive, but in my experience the fly by wire is more reliable. An additional failure mode, but overall more reliable.

I am not sure if the car manufacturers deal with failure modes that way I do at my plant, things are programmed and designed for fail safe mode. An example would be a stop push button for a piece of equipment. Pushing the button breaks the electrical connection, dropping out the equipment. The button failing, or the wires to the button getting cut, input point on the controls system breaks, etc. takes the exact same action as if you pressed the button. Button no work, equipment no run.

Planes have been fly by wire for years and were changed due to increased controls systems reliability. Your wrote, "increases the number of failure modes as well as the probability of failure" and while the first half is correct about the increase in failure modes, I highly doubt the increased probability of failure.

System going down in 5 minutes.