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


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Comment Re:Also change the requirement to a Ph.D (Score 1) 55

BTW, I have refused, starting two years ago, to teach undergraduate or even graduate-level classes at my top-10 University as a Lecturer.

The kids deserve to get what they pay for, of course. But I will die of starvation before making the Regents rich just because I have societal principles. I have other principles, too. Y'know, like not being a wage-slave, despite being qualified above my peers (of ~same age) who are tenured, and just dump teaching duties onto their TAs.

America is getting what America is asking for. And anyway; I find Community College students far more receptive to, and eager-to-learn, when they get a skilled educator than the "top-uni" kids — those twits only care whether they're getting an A vs. an A–, and little about the content.

Comment Re:Also change the requirement to a Ph.D (Score 1) 55

It's done for the hiring of potential PhD Professors, too.

Universities, unable to make discerning decisions on who is the best candidate for a tenure-track position (hint: laziness), just go for the cheapest of the lot of those that seem "kind of good enough."

As support, I offer that Community Colleges (good things) pay about 2x–3x the rate for Lecturing as local Universities do. They pay you as a contractor, as do Unis, but with the understanding that this means that you have to procure your own health care, and so on. The Community Colleges also provide, typically here, 1.5 hours of prep/grading time per "hour of contact" time. That's a 2.5x pay multiplier!

Back at the major University, you get no allowance for prep time, and only a "straight %-of-time salary" for the course. If you are a Lecturer, and you are trying to improve the reputation of your University, then please, please, please, take a close look at the numbers! Your employer not care. They only want the class taught for cheap!

In fact, you will probably find, as I did, that your TA gets a larger monthly stipend than your salary, on top of his/her tuition. Well, so after you come to that realization, if you have the sense avoid picking up more Lecturing gigs at the Uni, you will also learn that your State's Unemployment Insurance pays better than your teaching gig did!

That's right folks, the State, in its Wisdom, will pay you (we) 'over-educated PhDs' more money to lie on the couch at home than to actually do what would benefit the State – educating our youth (which is probably what you had wished to do to earn a living, way back when you chose the PhD path)!

Comment Re: Sounds like a psycopath. (Score 1) 485

And, sadly, in only 1 case ... good ole police detective work (and the public that called in tips...).

Totally Agreed. Unfortunately, LEOs have been moving away from that, too.

Two Examples: Tips are what solve most crimes. But my local LEOs ignore tips and crime reports. It's the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), in CA.

(1) DVD from sec cam showing resident managing to get away from what appeared to be a forcible abduction and ????. She was brave and reported it. Our board culled through the footage to find a very clear video of the whole thing. Put it on a DVD for ease-of-use. When attempting to deliver the DVD, with the CASE NUMBER written on the DVD, the person got the run-around for over an hour. Someone finally took it, but I doubt it was even watched to see if the perp was known to them. Nothing.

(2) Mail package thieves. Again, high-res images of the two perps, each looking up into the sec camera. For one, the name and address was clearly and easily readable. Resident filed a report with SMPD. Later, again, a board member combed through video to provide full-page, time-stamped, CASE NUMBER labeled printouts of the guys in the act of stealing mail, a felony. The reaction of the SMPD deserves its own line here:

. . . . Santa Monica Police Department, "What do you want us to do with that?"

I shit you not. Those were the words.

These are but two examples from a list of many...

Comment Re:Russia and China are the ones to watch. (Score 1) 98

Both have massive ground based laser system designed to take out sats. In fact , ussr once threatened the shuttle by hitting it with a laser on the window. Purposely. Now, Russia AND china, have small sats about size of basketball that they are moving slowly by American sats. These are only useful as a first strike weapon. Basically, if we launch at attack, upon launching, we do not need the sats. OTOH, if Russia, and/or china, launch, then taking out sats first, give them a critical edge.

Those are probably "inspector satellites". They listen as they pass by. Every computer chip or electronic circuit with AC components is a little antenna, emitting radio waves of frequencies in accord with, say, a CPU's clock speed.

One of your 'basketballs' wouldn't need to have anything but a set of antennas to receive the RF leakage. It would just collect... Once it was done listening to exactly what is going on inside the US satellite's circuitry, it could just give a short puff to speed it up a bit along its orbital path. In a month or three, it would catch up with the 'mother ship', perhaps an innocuous weather satellite on a similar path, but 1/2-way around the planet from the target of the espionage.

Once close enough to home, it could just use near-field radio communications to dump its data to mommy — conceptually like WiFi or Bluetooth – omnidirectional so signal is only strong locally. Frequency-hop, do it in bursts, etc. The mother ship, big and always talking to the ground, could just weave the data into its usual stream down to earth. Once on earth, computer analysis could commence.

What could be learned? Oh, lots! The interest, at least on the first runs, would not be on what the satellite was doing at the time. Rather, the goal would be to determine the specs. of that bird's capabilities &/or functions. Specifications, as in how good is it at looking and listening? That's Top Secret and/or Program-specific Classified info – the kind that requires you to have serious clearances before you can go sit in a vault (a SCIF) and read the details. You can't take any notes with you when you're done, so you'd better enjoy memorization. . . or a nap.

So really, although your basketballs could be conventional shrapnel bombs, it is far more likely that they are Inspector Satellites, spying on adversaries' spy/comm satellites to learn their capabilities, specs, and possibly function. The US-SMC and NRO are crazy-protective of such information, as you might imagine.

I heard the above from SWIM.

Comment Re:Room for corruption here (Score 1) 20


Spot-on. The phenomenon is not new, either. Symantec got big in the late 1980's and early 1990's by awarding bounties for discovery of "new viruses". To help, they provided examples of 'known' viruses.

To a kid in high school or college, this was an easy $50.
    * Copy one of their "examples"
    * Change something very minor in a hex editor
    * Use a printout or send code via a BBS (per-internet, remember?)
    * Profit! (I did.)

And PROFIT Symantec did, too (Norton then). Why else, in the early days of the virus, do you think that there were sometimes 100 variations of a virus, with only a difference in text displayed, or a change in some other 'non-functional' part of the virus?

The answer, of course, was that Symantec could claim each month the 'discovery' of "a new variant(s) of a known virus", or similar. Please, anyone who recalls using Norton Antivirus way back then, think back. Do you remember this specific error message? I sure do.

Other interests have recognized the value of scare tactics and broken software since then, of course. But they were the ones who really kicked it off (on the public scale – with ads in PC World, etc. for the 'bounties').

Comment QC Issue (Score 1) 207

This is simply a QC issue. Bolts were not tightened (or were absent?) in a single vehicle's driver-side seat-belt. It could have been a single oversight. Or, a disgruntled line-worker. Or, a tired one who has the flu. The first step, out of caution, is to recall all other vehicles assembled that day. The next; recall all that this person (or robot?) touched. Last, because we're talking about a life-saving device, and the work to check each one at the dealer is minimal, then it's the only reasonable thing to do. (A "no-brainer" decision, which is how Tesla is different from the big automakers, whose misbehavior has been known for decades. They keep getting caught, yet always seem to disregard human life over profits (assuming the secrets can be kept) again and again.)

So, Tesla undoubtedly out-sources their seat-belts to a vendor. It's a developed device, and not the focus of Tesla's R&D.

That said, installing the module properly in the Tesla factory is an extremely important thing. Tesla responded appropriately.

Comment Re:High resistance (Score 1) 37

If the traces sop up solder well, perhaps tin or wave solder the board before putting on the mask? Solder is likely a lot more conductive than the printed traces. Or alternatively after the traces have been printed, put on a layer of solder paste and re-flow.

Yes. We have the same problem at the nanometer scale (10^-9 meter). We usually expose custom devices or circuits on that scale (for good reasons) by using an electron beam, directly writing it (like with a pencil) by electron beam lithography (EBL). Also, to either mill, or to deposit platinum metal traces, we use a focused ion-beam (FIB) instrument.

Although this is not news to many here, what is probably news to many here is that we have the same problem as the quoted poster mentioned. An etched trace is always best, in terms of low electrical resistance, in this case, too. We sometimes 'repair' or 'alter' computer chips by laying down some platinum, tungsten, etc. as a short between traces, or whatever, done also in the FIB.

WE HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM: The direct-written FIB-traces and 'printed traces' of the article are generally less conductive than the copper/metal-lithography layer used for the main circuit. Solder is OK, but not a great conductor, either; it lies somewhere in between the two.

Comment Re:Awful lot of money for some big flaws... (Score 1) 37

For printing I use glossy magazine paper (just pages torn out of old magazines) because it's very thin and falls apart/dissolves easily in soapy water leaving just the toner on the board.

Yes! Glossy magazine paper is glossy for a reason. It has a thin layer of clay and a binder on its surface. That provides the gloss, smooth surface, and prevents image-bleed when in-press.

For you, the maker, this little layer is one reason the soapy-water transfer is so easy. Magazine paper's surface-coating is a water-soluble/removable layer. No worries about toner infiltrating the paper's fibers —there is that convenient layer in-between preventing it.

HINT: The soap in the last step is key, as it helps to disperse and deflocculate the clay, making it simple to wash away with water.

Comment Re:Awful lot of money for some big flaws... (Score 1) 37

I use a laser printer, print on glossy magazine paper, put the paper toner-side-down on the PCB, run it through a high temp laminator, peal off the paper in soapy water, then etch.

Brilliant! Much easier than using a PMMA resist, as I suggested.

For those who don't know, laser printers use toner that's a mix of pigment and a wax/plastic binder. The last step your laser printer performs is to roll the paper over a "fuser", which melts the binder, securing the toner to the paper.

That is, the brilliant step in the quoted post is to use this fact to use the laserjet printout as the resist before etching the copper. Poster uses a 'high-temp laminator', but in a pinch, a household iron might do.

Comment Re:Awful lot of money for some big flaws... (Score 1) 37

The $600 CNC mill/router is quite cool. Perhaps overkill for the circuit prototype, but that's OK.

(SIDE NOTE: This kind of 'home CNC' is a brilliant thing. Ever needed to replace a 'little plastic part' of your car, but that is only sold as part of a '$300 assembly?' Model it by whatever means, and then mill it from aluminum. The CNC would pay for itself in a year!)

RESPONDING TO THE VIDEO: Note that it began with a standard, copper-clad PCB piece, made for such projects, which have available for decades. This was probably just one of many demos for this product.

OTHER APPROACHES: A custom PCB can be achieved far more cheaply. I recall, in the 1980's, starting with one of these pre-clad PCBs. Then, laying down resist-tape, painting-in any gaps, and finally chemically etching the copper away to yield a one-off PCB.

In the 21st Century, it's even easier, even by rudimentary techniques. As someone else noted — use only a laser-jet, a UV or strong light source, and a spun-on resist layer (PMMA). Use the printout to do a 'contact exposure', the same as making a photographic 'contact print'. Dip in methanol to remove unexposed resist, and last dip into a copper etchant for a couple of minutes. Drill holes after.

Last, a Google search will undoubtedly find many vendors willing to do the above, and just mail the finished product to you. These guys are garage startups –enabling makers – but the garage is where it always starts

Comment Re:So much deception here. Where to start? (Score 1) 485

Oops, forgot to mention my main point.

The assholes responsible for the Paris attacks communicated with each other via un-encrypted text messages . (Source: a Slashdot or Guardian story 1-2 days ago.)

Encryption back-doors and mass surveillance of an entire populace's electronic communications have no place in any discussion or law-making in the aftermath of the Paris event. It is just another example of the US taking advantage of a global tragedy for political leverage towards even more unconstitutional surveillance and sousveillance (if you carry a cell phone).

The events occurred in Paris, France – an ocean away from the US!

Comment So much deception here. Where to start? (Score 1) 485

FTA: "I would prefer to see him (Snowden) hanged by the neck until he's dead" --- James Woolsey (frmr. Dir. CIA)

I recall hearing many calls, shortly after the Snowden disclosures, for this exact same punishment to befall both James Clapper (Dir. Natl. Intel.) and Ret. Gen. Keith Alexander (frmr. Dir. NSA). with the exact same wording as above, for their shenanigans -- revealed by Snowden. Of course, the clause predates the 20th Century; but still, choose your words wisely.

A Keith Alexander quote from the same source:

I think any unauthorized disclosures made by individuals that have dishonored the oath of office, that they have raised their hand and attested to, undermines this nation’s security,” he said in response to a question about Snowden (Nov 18, 2015).

They still can't get their own facts straight, even after J. Kerry made the same mistake a year or so ago. Snowden was a Federal CONTRACTOR, meaning that he DID NOT take any oath of office. The oath is for Federal employees, appointees, and electees only. Contractors do not take an oath.

I just want to keep the facts straight. It aids discussion.

"The most important thing in a man is not what he knows, but what he is." -- Narciso Yepes