Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment Must obey Betteridge's law (Score 1) 143

Since the title to this article is a question Betteridge's law states that the answer to the question must be no. So I have to come up with reasons:

1) There's nobody on Mars to ride on a Hyperloop system.

2) There's no manufacturing infrastructure on Mars to make one.

3) The whole point of the Hyperloop is to cut drag by running a train in a tube under a low pressure. Since Mars has a thin atmosphere already there is no need for the tube and hyperloop = train.

Comment Re:I would sell it (Score 1) 654

I was born and spent my childhood in the UK but have spent the last 25+ years living in the USA.

In the UK I never lived more than a ten minute walk from a bus stop. The busses were every fifteen minutes, they were relatively clean and affordable. They were a mode of transport used by many people not just people who didn't have a car (the very young, very old or poor). We would go grocery shopping and carry the shopping back home on the bus in bags. There were also shops within an easy walk of all the different homes I lived in. That limited our groceries to what we could sensibly carry but gave us quite a bit of exercise.

In the US the nearest bus stop is a mile and a half from my house. It is on the grass at the side of a four lane highway with no bus shelter and you have to stand on the muddy, wet grass. It's six miles from home to work but there is no bus that goes directly there, despite it being just one left turn from getting on the bus to getting off. According to Google Maps it is an hour journey with 25 minutes of that being the walk to the bus stop. There are no grocery stores on the bus route. The closest you get is dropped off on the wrong side of a six lane wide highway then a half mile walk to the store. So cross the highway twice (at peril of death) and walk a mile.

In my car it is a ten minute drive to work. A detour to grocery and other shops is negligible and I can easily get what I want on the way home from work.

My (rambling) point is that the US towns and cities that I have experience of (mid-Atlantic states) are set up for cars, and lots of them. They are impossibly unfriendly for walkers and cyclists and the public transport has very poorly thought out routes. In fact, now that I think of it, the area where I live has changed quite a bit in the last 25 years with new shops, businesses and housing but the bus routes are exactly the same that they always were.

Comment Re:The cat is out of the bag (Score 1) 92

I agree with you. It was actually very useful to me too that they did such a diligent job of restoring everything. My point, and warning, was that, even though I deleted my files myself and then closed the account the files were still "out there" on backup tapes etc. I wasn't too concerned for myself because everything was encrypted twice (encrypted files on encrypted disk images, yes I'm paranoid but it was tax data). What occurred to me after reading this Slashdot article is that someone could store unencrypted files with what, at the time, is a reputable company. That company goes bust and sells their assets including the backup tapes, databases etc. So, don't trust the reputation of the company that exists now unless you know that the files are encrypted on your machine before they are transferred to their servers or you encrypt them yourself (or if you are paranoid both!).

Comment The cat is out of the bag (Score 3, Informative) 92

It's already too late for us early adopters. Our information is out there and can't be claimed back now.

For example, up to a year ago I used a cloud storage service to store some files (fortunately encrypted) that I didn't want to lose, tax records and statements in PDF format. I found a better alternative so copied all of the files before deleting them and then asking the company to close the account. Fast forward a year and my "better alternative" announced that they were going out of business so I contacted the first company. I couldn't create a new account because it was keyed to my email address which was already in the system so they offered to reopen the old account. When I closed the account I still had several months left on the subscription and they kindly credited those to the reopened account. When I first logged in I was shocked to find that not only had they restored my physical address in the account info but also my credit card info. They also had helpfully restored all of the files that I had stored in the account. Remember, I deleted them before closing but they pulled them out of the backup from the day before I closed. That now has me thinking about both companies. The one that is still in business but doesn't delete backup copies and personal information of deleted accounts, and the one that went out of business that, presumably, had the same sort of info. Who now owns the databases with my credit card info and the backup tapes with my data?

The only two things to learn from this story are, encrypt whatever and wherever you can, and chose companies that you think (hope) are in there for the long haul.

Comment Re:Harder: self-stabilizing parachute, or balance (Score 1) 496

You also have :

c) Attach a ring of rockets to the top of the cylinder and allow gravity to balance it for you.

d) Use a teardrop shape instead of a cylinder so that it falls blunt end first, add fold out wings at the other end to produce drag and use the rockets at the top to slow the thing down.

e) Forget the land upright part, stick fold out wings on it and land it horizontally like an aircraft.

Comment Re:Limited power to change working situation... (Score 5, Interesting) 348

Exactly, I'm in the same situation. The only thing that I can do is at least try to move as much as I can when I am allowed. So, I get up from my desk at least once an hour and walk to someone's office rather than calling them on the phone. Bathroom breaks are taken at the furthest bathroom from my office. When I was in a multi-floor office building I'd go to the bathroom on the floor three down from the office and take the stairs. In the morning I don't park in the spot closest to the building but walk a bit.

I'm still stuck though. The rest of my time is spent typing at my desk or in meetings and I can't exactly stand and pace in the corner of the meeting room.

Comment Biometric is great until... (Score 1) 383

The DARPA verification method would have to use multiple biometric markers since you could always think of a situation where a medical condition renders one or more of them useless. The person with eye problems who can't use retina scan, the person with damaged fingertips who can't use fingerprint, the person with throat or respiratory disease who can't use voice recognition, etc.

It would be much simpler to have a universal two factor token. Something that you enter a PIN into which generates an encrypted token that is then used for login. It would also solve the social security number identity theft problem since you have a unique way of verifying identity.

Comment Convoluted and riddled with systematic errors (Score 1) 311

Take a string say 100 times the distance from your toe to your heel. Let's call this 100 feet. Tie one end to a peg stuck in the ground and the other end to your belt buckle. Now walk in a circle keeping the string taught putting your feet down toe to heel.Count steps, divide by 200 and you've got pi. Even if you don't count the fraction of a foot left over it has to be accurate to better than 1%. You can keep the cartridges for the zombies.

If it's really a worry, tattoo pi somewhere discrete while you can remember it...

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.