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+ - Mechanical Insects Evolve The Ability To Fly Though A Window ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "You might think that the world has enough insects without creating robots in the same style. In this case, however, the real interest is in the way the ability to fly though a window can evolve without anyone really trying.
This particular robot, DelFly — see, is a miracle of miniaturisation. It weighs just 20 grams including a 1-gram autopilot and 4 grams devoted to a stereo vision system. It was designed at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The idea was to try to evolve behaviour that would get the autonomous system to fly though a window all on its own. This involves finding the window and working out a flight configuration that gets DelFly though the window.
DelFly learned using the genetic algorithm, An initial population was created at random and then tested in simulated environment. Each individual was rated on their success and a fitness value computed. The best individuals are used to create a new generation by crossover and mutation. After 150 or more generations the behaviour tree proved about 88% successful which should be compared to an 82% success rate for a hand-crafted tree.
So put simply the DelFly evolved to fly though the window — just like the real thing."

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Comment: Re:What took them so long? (Score 1) 193

by dkf (#48646907) Attached to: Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

The first step in security is to assume that your office network is the same as "the Internet": you don't know what's on there, it is full of malware and hackers, and they are actively out to try and get you.

Unfortunately, the office network is also definitely full of managers, and prizing a bit more convenience at the cost of "a little" more risk is a classic thing that managers order. They are also usually able to find people who will carry out the orders.

Comment: Re:BS (Score 1) 328

by rinka (#48641991) Attached to: Schneier Explains How To Protect Yourself From Sony-Style Attacks (You Can't)
just wanted to comment on this one:

..In particular the Executive that had the entires companies Salary in an XLS document on their hard-drive should be fired immediately..

I have worked at a pretty senior level in a very large and global Software company. Here's roughly how the process of deciding salaries happens.

  1. We make a list of our reportees on a spreadsheet (and an upline manager can have over 300 reportees), add in various parameters and rank them.
    Once we've ranked and sync'd up with our managers AND with our peers, the data is uploaded into the salary tool. This is an online tool.
    However, we can (and do) download csv files from the tool - including past and proposed salaries since it is so much easier to juggle data in Excel.

    The reason I describe this process is - if my (or any of the other managers') machines are hacked while we are making the salary decisions, the hackers will surely get the salary data. The download is necessary since the Salary tool is not as flexible as looking at data in an xls. This is especially true when one is looking at the salary of a very large number of people. This, to my knowledge, is true for most large Organizations and based on your point, most senior managers of the organization hacked would get fired.

+ - Pi In Space!->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Raspberry Pi that is.
When British astronaut Tim Peake heads off to the International Space Station in November 2015 he will be accompanied on his 6 month mission by two augmented Rapsberry Pis, aka Astro Pis. The Astro Pi board is a Raspberry Pi HAT and provides — gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer and sensors for temperature, barometric pressure and humidity. It also has a real time clock, LED display and some push buttons — it sounds like the sort of addon that we could do with down here on earth as well! It will also be equipped with both camera module and an infra-red camera.
UK school pupils are being challenged to write Rapberry Pi apps or experiments to run in space. During his mission Tim Peake will deploy the Astro Pis, upload the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download it to be distributed to the winning teams.
If this doesn't get kids turned on to computing and science nothing will."

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+ - StreetPong - Makes Waiting For Traffic Fun ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "The extremely wacky idea, which has been put into real use in Germany, is an interactive game of Pong that you can play with the pedestrian waiting on the other side of the road. You control the ball using arrows on the push-button unit that activates the crossing. The devices are now known as ActiWait, and the thinking is that by giving you a way to avoid boredom while waiting for the lights, they’ll cut down on pedestrians attempting to cross the road without the protection of the lights. If you think its a great idea then there is an IndieGogo campaign on,with 38 days to go. if you put up 10,000 euros then you get a pair of game units to attach to a traffic crossing of your choosing — of course it's down to you to get official permission to do so. As an upgrade I'd recommend Froggy Freeway – the sight of those frogs getting squashed would be a much better deterrent to jumping the lights."
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Comment: Re:Cloud (Score 1) 241

by dkf (#48588251) Attached to: Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

You IT security is only as good as your control of the hardware!

But you have to let the users on anyway. If you manage to completely secure systems so that it is completely impossible for any data to leak, you'll have excluded everyone who has legitimate reasons to have access, and you'll have cost the company a lot of money in the process. You'll be seen as the weak point in the whole process and will get replaced with someone less expensive and more compliant with what the business needs.

Comment: Re:hypocrisy (Score 1) 192

by dkf (#48564389) Attached to: Microsoft To US Gov't: the World's Servers Are Not Yours For the Taking

Also, lawyers and Microsoft combining to call the government a hypocrite? This is like a cesspool of double standards, each trying to be the worst.

The really big problem Microsoft has (and numerous other large US companies that run cloud services with datacenters in the EU, such as Amazon and IBM) is that if they give in with this, there will be lots of EU customers who will leave as soon as possible, and nothing that they'll be able to say or do will stop it short of relocating the company HQ and ownership structure entirely outside the US so the US government and courts really won't have jurisdiction (but will instead have to work through international treaties). This will be caused by the perception in the EU of overreach by the US, and the EU's generally fairly aggressive data protection laws.

At the very least, giving in on this will cost MS a huge amount of money to put right, and there'd be a real danger of an EU competitor being able to grow large enough to lock them out while they're sorting it all out (other US corporations would be in the same position).

Comment: Re:Effort dilution (Score 1) 254

by dkf (#48546671) Attached to: Node.js Forked By Top Contributors

Swapping shifting hands and not turning on your wipers to signal a turn are the only parts most have to relearn if they swap styles often.

When you're dealing with an automatic, it depends on what the car manufacturer thought was a good idea for their brand image; there's no benefit at all to either side (but you need to pick one). With a manual shift, you want the signal lever on the opposite side so that you are able to signal while changing gear.

The windscreen wiper control appears to migrate from side to side with no technical considerations at all, and headlight controls are even more variable...

+ - Spectrum Vega – A Blast From The Past ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "A new games console is being launched based on the 80s classic, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Within days of the start of its Indiegogo campaign all of the 1000 Limited Edition Spectrum Vegas had been claimed but there is still the chance to get your hands on one of the second batch.
The Sinclair Spectrum Vega is really retro in the sense that it plugs into a TV, so avoiding the need for a monitor, and comes complete with around 1,000 games built-in. Games are accessed through a menu based system, and once selected load automatically taking the player directly into the game play mode. This is very different from the original Spectrum with its rubber-topped keyboard and BASIC interface.
If you have existing Spectrum games you’d like to play, you can use an SD card to load them onto the Vega, though the current publicity material doesn’t give much clue as to how you go from ancient cassette tape to SD card. As for programming new games, there are ZX Spectrum emulators for Windows that are free and ready to use – but this raises the question of why we need retro hardware at all."

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Comment: Re:if ohshit (Score 1) 323

by dkf (#48499511) Attached to: DOOM 3DO Source Released On Github

No it's not, it could easily be structured more understandably.

But if that caused a severe performance penalty, that wouldn't be a step forward. The success metric was to get the product shipping fast so that it could be sold over the Christmas period, not to make something that would be wonderfully maintainable for all time.

Comment: Re:Coverage (Score 1) 216

by dkf (#48499335) Attached to: How the Rollout of 5G Will Change Everything

But with people moving more into rual areas to retire, the bandwidth hasnt kept up with the usage, so now its down to voice only.

Sucks to be them if that matters to them. If they'd wanted good internet, they'd have not gone out in the boonies, but would have picked some nice small town that has just enough population to support good networking without the trouble of larger places. Instead, they trade that for lots more space; it's a valid option, even if not one that I'd ever pick.

Comment: Re:Good For Him (Score 1) 74

by dkf (#48499247) Attached to: How the FCC CIO Plans To Modernize 207 Legacy IT Systems

In my personal experience, the older the legacy system, and the more embedded it is in your business ... the harder it is to replace.

But if it's that old, it's probably also massively underdocumented (if at all) and so if something unexpected happens, your ass is still hanging out the window. Producing the documentation of what was actually done is at least as valuable a part of a replacement project as the change to the new system, as it should allow someone to start looking at which parts are required, which parts are emulating interfaces (from both sides, usually) that could be de-layered for improved performance and capabilities with no down-side, and which parts are just dumb holdovers from a few systems ago that nobody needs any more at all.

Just because something is painful doesn't mean you can get away without doing it.

+ - Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor Of Typing ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "It seems incredible that in the 21st century schools are still teaching children to scratch marks on paper. Well in Finland they are taking a step in the direction of the future by giving up teaching handwriting.
The Savon Sanomat newspaper reports that from autumn 2016 cursive handwriting will no longer be a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Instead the schools will teach keyboard skills and "texting". The idea of teaching proper keyboard skills to children is unquestionably a great idea, the idea of texting is a little more dubious and many will mourn the loss of a traditional skill like cursive writing.
So what about a world where cursive writing is forgotten?
What do you do when your computer is dead and you need to leave a note? The death of cursive script probably isn't the death of handwriting but the death of doing it quickly and with style. Some no doubt will want to master it just for the sake of it — like driving a stick shift."

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There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak