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Comment The China Syndrome movie didn't kill nukes. (Score 1) 253

And it sure has hell wasn't Greenpeace or the Clamshell Alliance.

It was the 1980s oil glut that did the deed. That was especially devastating following on the heels of the 1970s oil crisis, because so many companies who entered the alternative energy business in the late 70s only to have the floor cut out from under them in 1980. I had a good friend who quit his job at a software company in 1980 to go to work for a company developing a seasonal thermal energy storage scheme. He was an accountant and according to him the numbers were solid as long as oil prices were north of $100/bbl. That was in May of 1980 when oil was trading at $114/bbl. 13 months later the price of oil had fallen to $60/bbl. For the next five years the Saudis tried to prop up falling oil prices by cutting back production, but in '85 they gave up, opened the spigots, and oil prices dropped to $23/bbl.

The economic reaction was entirely what you'd predict with oil prices at a 40 year low. The development of new energy technologies stalled. Cars got bigger again and SUVs of unprecedented size and low fuel economy became wildly popular. And new nuclear plant starts dried up. Oh, the industry pointed the finger at the big, bad environmental movement, which is laughable because so far as I know they only nuclear power plant ever canceled due to protests was the monumentally stupidly sited Bodega Bay in 1964. Imagine for a moment the Clams and all those guys didn't exist; it wouldn't have mattered in the least. Nobody is going to invest in new nuclear power plants when oil is priced at $18/bbl. But it sounds better to say that the Greens have put you out of business than to say the prices you used in your revenue projections were off by an order of magnitude.

Comment It killed the wall wart cash cows. (Score 1) 145

Every cell phone manufacturer would make a new charger with a new connector totally incompatible with one another. Some manufacturer will change the charger between lines of their own product. (Nokia was a little more friendly than others in this respect). You forget to pack a charger you can't borrow one easily. You lose one, they come dunning for $19.99 + shipping and handling. What a mess!

Finally Android put a stop to it. Now on the android side almost all the chargers are ubiquitous micro USB. Most wearables and bluetooth headphones... almost all don't pack a wallwart any more. They just give a USB adapter to serve as charger.

I understand Apple still sees their users as captive market to be exploited using non standard cables, connectors etc each costing 20$

Comment Re:Be sure they really are cheaper (Score 4, Informative) 211

I second using a site like pcpartspicker. It can help you avoid some petty technical mistakes, like buying an under capacity CPU cooler, or a power supply without enough of the correct connectors and voltages for your cards.

One thing I've noticed about homebuilt rigs is that they are occasionally louder than normal. I think a lot of builders don't think about noise or airflow, and a lot of the cabinetmakers just provide a bunch of fan mounting points but they can't really consider the cooling needs of the particular motherboard and CPU you're dealing with. If noise is important (perhaps you're going to use it as a media PC in a home theater, too) then you can factor that in as well, or consider options like liquid cooling solutions.

Comment Bigger problems (Score 5, Insightful) 82

The only requirement is that the attacker has port forwarding enabled on the same VPN network as its target. A phishing link or laced image file, for example, is then sent to the victim which leads the traffic to a port under the hacker’s control.

So... using a social engineering attack can expose the victim's IP address. Am I missing something? Cause to me this falls under the category of "Well no shit, Sherlock!" If you can convince a user to run a malicious payload, then having an IP address exposed is the least the victim's problems.

Comment Re:Books thesis (Score 3, Insightful) 143

Well, having worked in both the non-profit sector and in public health, I think the criticisms of the Gates Foundation's public health efforts are malarkey. It's basically an opportunity cost argument and by that standard virtually every charitable foundation is wanting. Why are you spending money on the ballet when there are kids who can't read? Why are you spending money on literacy education when there are kids who don't have enough to eat etc. The problems of the world are endlessly varied and complex, and you can't ask much more of anyone than that they pick a spot and take a whack.

That said, the idea that spending money on infectious diseases is wasteful is particularly inane. Sure, in some places obesity may result in more premature deaths than malaria, but the fact is nobody really knows how to effectively fight an "obesity epidemic", whereas malaria is clearly eradicable -- and once it's gone, it's gone forever, because P. falciparum has no natural host other than humans. The same goes for communicable diseases for which we have vaccines; we know how to fight those cost effectively, even eradicate them in many cases. The missing piece of the puzzle is money.

Now criticism of the foundation's education efforts is a lot more warranted. Just like everybody thinks they're qualified to design a website because they have opinions about which sites they like and don't like, everyone thinks they're qualified to redesign the educational system because they went to school. The difference is that Gates has the money to make his bad ideas materialize. It may be hacker philanthropy, but most attempts at "hacks" result in kluges.

So overall it's a mixed bag. While you do have to give props to Gates for being "the man in the arena", sometimes, unlike in Teddy Roosevelt's famous speech, the man in the arena's failings don't fall exclusively on himself. So while philanthropy is admirable in itself, where the philanthropist's activities impinge on areas of public policy like education his actions should be held up to scrutiny like anyone else's.

Comment Re:Where was the CIA, FBI and NSA... (Score 3, Insightful) 285

How do you know it was credible, besides through the benefit of hindsight? The CIA/FBI/police get 100 tip-offs per day that the stranger down the street must be a drug dealer/kiddie fiddler/international terrorist because he can't whistle 'Dixie'.

Strawman argument. The point is that there were several credible warnings of both an Al Qaeda attack and specific concerns with piloting students affiliated with them, some from foreign intelligence agencies; all these reports were not duly considered and discarded -- not because they were the moral equivalent of not being able to whistle "Dixie", but because of organizational and political dysfunction.

It was a failure -- specifically a failure to do something that was well within the government's power to do. I'm not saying that signals intelligence is not important, but it's an evasion of responsibility to claim our failure to take effective action was because we needed some technical capability that we lacked at the time. We had everything we needed to catch the 9/11 hijackers before they struck except for leadership.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.