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Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Two

Journal by mcgrew

Boarded!
Me and Bill hauled ass out of there towards Mars as fast as his crippled boat would take him. I did another inspection because first, I hadn't done a full inspection yet that day, second because I'd pushed her pretty hard, and third because I sure didn’t need any new surprises. We were at a third gravity because of Bill, and he was having a hard time keeping up. A third gravity? On batteries? I need to have him teach me some of that nerd

Comment: Sad. (Score 1) 14

by mcgrew (#47684267) Attached to: ONION: Tips For Being An Unarmed Black Teen

Three anonymous racists trolls in one JE. Brown probably had a slashdot account, the kid was a nerd. He'd just graduated high school and was enrolled in college to study engineering. He'd never been in any trouble with the police, and those who knew him said he was a peaceful young man with a good sense of humor.

Now heartless racists, like the Ferguson police chief, are trying to demonize him.

This hits close to home for me, I have family and friends in the St Louis area and grew up in Cahokia. And yes, there are a lot of racists there. Idiots, if you ask me. The Ferguson government was the stupidest of all, they were begging for riots and still are.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty One

Journal by mcgrew

Interception
I had the computer wake me up at six so I'd be ready for the pirates. Of course, when the alarm went off I thought "damned whores" until I looked and was reminded that I'd set the alarm myself. I started coffee, took my shower, and ate a quick breakfast. Huh? Steak, egg, and cheese wrap. A small one.
Then I went downstairs to do a quick inspection of the engines and generators. Thankfully, nothing was broken o

Comment: Corrected story :) or maybe :( (Score 1) 166

by davidwr (#47681733) Attached to: Watch a Cat Video, Get Hacked: the Death of Clear-Text

$FUTURE_DATE: Citizen Lab released new research today on a targeted exploitation technique used by state actors involving "network injection appliances" installed at ISPs and with the possibly-coerced "cooperation" of https: web sites or the companies issuing https: certificates. These devices can target and intercept encrypted YouTube traffic and replace it with malicious code that gives the operator control over the system or installs a surveillance backdoor. One of the researchers writes, "many otherwise well-informed people think they have to do something wrong, or stupid, or insecure to get hacked - like visiting an unencrypted web site, ...many of these commonly held beliefs are not necessarily true." This technique is largely designed for targeted attacks, so it's likely most of us will be safe for now - but just one more reminder to not trust the person on the other end to not cooperate with The Man in the middle. It is unknown how long such attacks have been happening but they might date to 2014 or earlier.

Comment: Re:How much do the backers get? (Score 1) 107

Is it pure risk for the backers? e.g. if they make a product, they get something they bought, but if the product flops, they loose their money.
And now if the product makes a fortune, they only get their product they bought.
In other words, is kickstarter just a pre-order sales website?

It's zero risk for the kickstarter backers. There is zero chance they will lose more than they pledged through kickstarter.

Product? They didn't buy any product. Kickstarter has been quite clear, it is not a pre-order service. Anything offered in return for a kickstarter pledge is essentially a thank-you gift. Like all gifts, you're shouldn't demand one or complain when you don't get one.

If a kickstarter campaign fails (that is, raises the requested funds, but never manages to complete the product), the backers get nothing and have no recourse. I don't see how it would be any different if the campaign succeeds, as it did in this case. (Other than for P.R. reasons)

So back to the question of risk, once the campaign reached its funding goal, that money pledged was gone. Not a risk, but a certainty. It's like asking, what is the risk if I drop $5 into a Salvation Army bucket? No risk--you're just out $5.

Comment: Re:When every feature undocumented (Score 1) 198

by davidwr (#47677383) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Everything you think as being "intuitive" is simply you being used to other software behaving in a similar way, or you expecting some icon to match the behavior / usage of a real-world item it kind of looks like. It's training, whether you realize it or not.

Thank you for making part of my point for me (new readers: see my earlier posts in this chain for context).

If you can depend on your users to have a certain skill - be it reading English, knowing how to use a telephone, knowing how to drive, or knowing how to use a computer with a very similar user interface to yours - then for all practical purposes those behaviors and any obvious variations of them can be considered "intuitive" as far as you and your customers are concerned. To put it another way: When I go buy a brand-new car, I don't have to be taught what to do with the big wheel that is a few inches in front of where I am sitting - I can "intuit" how to use it based on my knowledge of the very similar big wheel in my existing automobile.

Comment: Next sensationalist show: "The Linux Kernel" (Score 1) 103

Next on Discovery, discover how this once-obscure hobbyist "computer program" now runs key parts of the Internet and even the core of that computer-in-your-pocket that you call a telephone. See the dangers as the Discovery Channel uncovers 10 year old bugs in "embedded systems" are ticking time bombs that could destroy the Internet as we know it if they go off. ....

Comment: Re:When every feature undocumented (Score 1) 198

by davidwr (#47672379) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Plus, there is no such thing as intuitive GUI

I dunno, I'd say it's fair to call the user interface at most ATMs and credit-card machines intuitive. Granted, some of those user interfaces aren't graphical, but some are.

To put it another way, the learning curve on these things is so shallow that if there's a difference between its shallow learning curve and what you would call an "intuitive GUI" I'm not seeing it.

Comment: How intuitive is it? (Score 1) 198

by davidwr (#47672343) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

You can skimp on documenting the obvious.

You can delay documenting the obscure, or even leave it undocumented as an "easter egg."

Anything else I would expect to be well-documented OR I would expect the product to say, up front, that its documentation is sparse.

Have you considered making bare-bones documentation in the product and making the full documentation a community-driven project, perhaps a Wiki? Now that the base Wiki software makes it easy to have "pending edits" which are not shown to non-logged-in users, you can do this without as much of a "troll/vandalism" risk as in the past.

User Journal

Journal: Sig update 2014-08-14

Journal by davidwr

All your e are belong to Mother Nature.

Past sigs:

http://slashdot.org/journal/281635/signature-line-update-2012-04-23

http://slashdot.org/journal/94557/my-sig-lines

Comment: Charging-only cable adapters (Score 3, Interesting) 72

by davidwr (#47670539) Attached to: The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

This is one reason why charging-only cables or cable adapters which do not carry the "data lines" should be cheap and just as widely-available and widely-marketed as other USB cables.

Bonus points if they are transparent so the end user can visually verify that the only connected lines are the power and ground lines.

OBDIYHACK: http://www.instructables.com/i...

Comment: You want cheaper textbooks? (Score 1) 95

by davidwr (#47670479) Attached to: Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

Except for rapidly-evolving subjects, encourage professors to use "old" textbooks or, whatever the subject matter, encourage professors to use "open source" textbooks when they are available.

If publishers balk at reprinting old textbooks at "old prices," lobby Congress to allow colleges to reprint old textbooks and pay a royalty based on the lowest published price during the book's lifetime.

Under this kind of "book market" most Freshman and Sophomores won't have more than 1 or 2 classes where they have to buy expensive textbooks.

As for the interactive software that increasingly accompanies college textbooks and in many cases is part of the reason they are so expensive - college professors need to decide if the software is cost-effective before recommending it. In some cases, it might be cost-effective but in most cases outside of specialized situations or advanced coursework, it won't be.

Comment: There is a place for the Morse telegraph (Score 3, Interesting) 144

by davidwr (#47670407) Attached to: Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

The non-wireless Morse telegraph using only 19th-century technology (plus modern conveniences like plastic-insulated wires) is a fun educational tool for places like museums that reflect the era when telegraphy was widely used.

It's also a fun educational tool for children's camps which specialize in either the history of that era or which specialize in STEM and which have a historical component.

The same can be said for semaphore signaling, "hand-crank" telephones, and even "tin can and a string" telephones.

Wireless telegraphy is still used by amateur radio operators and other hobbyists, alongside more modern "digital modes" like packet radio. Because of its very low bandwidth, Morse Code, particularly the computer-controlled "slow code" that is used on very-narrow-bandwidth transmissions in the sub-600KHz bands can typically get a message through in high-noise or low-effective-transmitting-power situations where other methods, such as "phone" (i.e. voice communication) or other digital modes can't.

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