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Submission + - US Government detained Laura Poitras every time she flew .. ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Since the 2006 release of “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has left and re-entered the U.S. roughly 40 times. Virtually every time during that six-year-period that she has returned to the U.S., her plane has been met by DHS agents who stand at the airplane door or tarmac and inspect the passports of every de-planing passenger until they find her (on the handful of occasions where they did not meet her at the plane, agents were called when she arrived at immigration).

Each time, they detain her, and then interrogate her at length about where she went and with whom she met or spoke. They have exhibited a particular interest in finding out for whom she works.

Comment Re:The Mac OS X version is unsigned. (Score 2) 117

Getting the OS X Developer account through legal would probably be a nightmare.

Heck, even reviewing the agreement is difficult.

  1. 1. does not render under Firefox.
  2. 2. For the individual program, you can't look at the agreement without giving them a credit card.
  3. 3. For the corporate program, you have to attest that you can sign agreements for the company before seeing the agreement.
  4. 4. Profit! (Sorry, I always wanted to do that)

Does the Mac OS License include the onerous section that is in the IOS developer agreement about making public statements? See the EFF All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple: The iPhone Developer Program License Agreement page.

As I can't review the agreement without either giving them a credit card number or committing fraud, I can't seem to find out.

Certificates do not have much value, especially for smaller firms. Say an app from a smaller vendor or an individual is signed, but turns out to be malicious. What's Apple going to do, other than revoke the cert and try not to give that vendor or individual a cert in the future?

That said, I'm glad it is possible to download Google Earth without enabling automatic updates. I downloaded GE in January and there was no way to run it without automatic updates running. I removed Chrome because it automatically updates. I need a bit more control over my machine than that.

Comment Already been done for airplanes (Score 2) 165

Total disclosure: I've worked on Soft Walls.

There was discussion on Slashdot about the Soft Walls Project that did something similar for airplanes. See the 2011, 2004 and 2003 discussions.

I believe that there was a demo involving an airplane at some point. It turns out that one of the interesting things is how to you define a blending function that makes it harder and harder for the device to fly in to the no fly zone.

Yeah, drones are different, and I'm not sure of the value of having no fly zones for drones, but it will probably happen some day.

In this case, a no-fly zone in DC might have prevented drunken late night operation and crashing of the drone and we would have some other news item to discuss.

There is Soft Walls FAQ that covers common objections for airplanes.

Comment Re:Yellowstone hotspot/McDonalds/Impact Crater (Score 1) 65

There are possible calderas in the area, see a map on p. 4 of Mineral Resources of the Charles Sheldon Wilderness Study Area, Humboldt and Washoe Counties, Nevada, and Lake and Harney Counties, Oregon," USGS, 1984.:

Three prominent closed gravity minima along the south edge of the study area may reveal underlying calderas, which are masked by younger Tertiary rocks. The largest possible caldera is about 10.52 by 15.5 mi (17 by 25 km) in size, and, if the assumed underlying tuffaceous sedimentary rocks are, on the average, 0.2 g/cm3 less dense than the surrounding volcanic rocks, the caldera extends to a depth of about 1.7 mi (2.7 km). The areas along the edges of the postulated calderas are considered sites for possible future mineral exploration.


In the southwestern part of the Range, gravity and magnetic anomalies of substantial size suggest the possible existence of a caldera or buried pluton. The widespread geochemical anomalies in this area are similar in size and magnitude to the mineralized McDermitt Caldera approximately 82 mi (132 km) to the northwest in the Opalite mining district. Whether a caldera or buried pluton is present in the area, the geochemical data suggest that area C shown on figure 2 has a possible potential for concealed mercury and complex precious metal sulfide deposits.

Also, the link to the McDonalds reference is:

Comment Re:Coverity (Score 1) 67

Right you are! In my defense, I think contracting this out to Coverity was one of the rare things that the DHS did that was correct, or at least no horrifically incorrect. I see the DHS as an overgrown bureaucracy that is antithetical to our constitutional rights, especially the fourth amendment (searches). Bureaucracies need to grow to cover up their inefficiencies. Don't get me started on the TSA... Thanks for the correction...

Comment Not on the Black Rock: Leave No Trace Fail (Score 1) 81

Sadly, the run won't be on the Black Rock Desert, says:

In light of this impressive record, surely BLOODHOUND will return to the Black Rock Desert? Sadly, no. A lack of rain over the last decade, together with increasingly heavy use for the playa surface (principly by the annual Burning Man festival) has left the Black Rock surface in poor condition. It is bumpy, crumbly, rutted and uneven for much of its 140+ square mile surface and is not currently a suitable surface on which to run a car like BLOODHOUND. Hence an alternative surface is required – and we need to find one, wherever in the world it may be.

Comment I used the NTIS last month: The Long Tail (Score 5, Informative) 32

I was doing research earlier this year and needed a paper summarizing a taxpayer funded project from 1967. This paper was not to be found anywhere else but at the NTIS. Libraries listed the NTIS as the place that had a copy. If the NTIS was not able to sell me a copy of the paper, then I would not have been able to get the information. Closing the NTIS only makes sense if the entire contents of the NTIS's archives are made available on the Internet.

The problem is that the most popular NTIS stuff is already on the net, but the remaining 30% (the long tail) is not.

The federally funded research was about these large (miles in radius) circles found in Nevada. There was conjecture that they were from a nuclear test. It turns out that they were from a toxic cloud test that was done using a solid rocket engine treated with beryllium. See http://pacaeropress.websitetoo..., and

The NTIS had the paper in question, which I was able to get and confirm that the semi-circles were created as part of the test. There was no mention of the test in the local papers or anywhere else I could find. If the NTIS did not have the paper, then my only hope would have been to ask Aerojet, the company contracted to do the research. The odds of them having a paper from 1967 is pretty low.

I realize that this question is not a critical, life threatening question, but determining *why* the circles where there and dispelling rumors about nuke tests is useful. The pursuit of the truth is lofty goal. Those who do not know history are bound to repeat it. In the case of this study, it turns out that there was an inversion layer that prevented a bunch of the particulate matter from reaching the ground in the test site. Maybe this is a well know mechanism now, but if I were researching atmospheric pollution, then I would want to review a study like this. If this study is not accessible, then it is like it never happened.

If the NTIS is disbanded, then we are basically tossing a bunch of tax-payer funded projects in to the shredder.

Interestingly, Canada is going through a somewhat similar issue where libraries containing research materials are being closed. Here an article from 2012:

I'm no fan of big government, but if the NTIS is to be closed, then the entire contents of the NTIS library must be made freely available.

Comment Re:Two separate fights (Score 1) 720

BTW - I thought that SS and Medicare are funded from payroll taxes, but apparently not . Wikipedia says: "Parts B and D are funded by premiums paid by Medicare enrollees and general fund revenue. In 2011, Medicare spending accounted for about 15 percent of the federal budget, and this share is projected to increase to over 17 percent by 2020."

Comment Re:How old school. (Score 2) 237

The day after 9/11, my boss was scheduled to lecture undergrads. He talked about the idea of using terrain maps to prevent planes from flying in to buildings. The system is called Softwalls, which was discussed on Slashdot. The really interesting thing about this is how strongly pilots and others objected. There is a FAQ that covers common objections.

Submission + - Survival Research Laboratories: Banned in San Fran (

cxbrx writes: "Apparently, Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), "a machine performance art group credited for pioneering the genre of large-scale machine performance" has been banned from performing in San Francisco by the San Francisco Fire Department. For many years, SRL has been doing machine performance art involving the repurposing of technology. SRL machines include robots with microcontrollers and flame effects like a V-1 engine. SRL says that this is because SRL humiliated the San Francisco Fire Department during the filming of a 1994 show that ended up on a Connie Chung TV show. In December, 2011, "the SFFD, citing an SRL show from 1989, Illusions of Shameless Abundance, stated that SRL would no longer be allowed to perform in San Francisco." [Disclosure: I worked successful SRL performances in San Jose and Santa Rosa.] Do slashdotters have any suggestions on changing the opinion of SFFD?"

Comment 1977 Popular Electronics Article (Score 1) 66

This brings me back to the April, 1977 issue of (I think) Popular Electronics that had a recipe for creating solar cells at home using "3'7 Dimethylpentadecon-2-ol propionate". At the time, I was 13 and spent quite a bit of time bothering my science teaching trying figure out what 3'7 Dimethylpentadecon-2-ol propionate was and how to get some. Years later, I happened to look at the May issue and it turns out it was an April Fools' joke. Even at that time, I did laugh out loud. Anyway, if you want to see a description, check out Don Lancaster's "The worst of Marcia Swampfelder"

In addition, Marcia does have some suggestions about car stereo speaker orientation that are useful for winter driving :-^

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