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Comment Re:15 years old? (Score 3, Insightful) 149

I see this and his age, and I can only think, "does he realize that, while Obama can make some action, the majority of such a thing has to come from Congress?"

I can only see him as being a brat trying to make a name for himself targeting a well targeted person.

The biggest thing on his table politically about climate change recently, might have been Keystone, which he didn't let go through

WTF does the Keystone pipeline have to do with climate change? The Canadians are selling the oil to China, anyway, it'll just take a different route.

So tired of this mindless repetition of "facts" from partisans on both sides.

Comment Re:Not doing his job? (Score 3, Funny) 149

Not to mention that I'm sure we can find over a dozen activities this kid takes part in that negatively impact the climate.

Let me help you:

"Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh... hip-hop-savvy Coloradan...,' he told me here at the U.N. COP21 climate change summit in Paris.

I'm guessing he didn't row a boat to Europe.

Comment Re:Is this really as typical as it seems? (Score 2) 76

New technology market deployments go in stages, including the following:
  1) The underlying technology becomes available and financially viable. The window opens.
  2) An explosion of companies introduce competing products and try to capture market share. They are in a race to jump through the window.
  3) There is a shakeout: A handful become the dominant producers and the rest die off or move on to other things. The window has closed.

We've seen this over and over. (Two examples from a few decades back were the explosions of Unix boxes and PC graphics accelerator chips)

IoT applications recently passed stage 1), with the introduction of $1-ish priced, ultra-low-power (batteries last for years), systems-on-a-chip (computer, radio peripheral, miscellaneous sensor and other device interfaces) from TI, Nordic, Dialog, and others. It's in stage 2) now.

In stage 2) there's a race to get to market. Wait too long and your competitors eat your lunch and you die before deploying at all. So PBHs do things like deploy proof-of-concept lab prototypes as products, as soon as they work at all (or even BEFORE they do. B-b ) They figure that implementing a good security architecture up front will make them miss the window, and (if they think that far ahead at all) that they can fix it with upgrades later, after they're established, have financing, adequate staffing, and time to do it right - or at least well enough.

So right now you're seeing the IoT producucts that came out first - which means mostly the ones that either ignored security entirely or haven't gotten it set up right yet. Give it some time and you'll see better security - either from improvements among the early movers or new entrants who took the time to do it right and managed to survive long enough to get to market. Then you'll see a shakeout, as those who got SOMETHING wrong fail in competition with those who got it right.

If we're lucky, one of the "somethings" will be security. But Microsoft's example shows that's not necessarily a given.

In this case, though, the POINT of the product is security, so getting it wrong - visibly - may be a company killer. (I see that, in the wake of the exposure, the company is promising a field upgrade with this issue fixed in about a month. If it does happen, and comes out before the crooks develop and use an exploit, perhaps this company will become another example for the PHBs to point at when they push the engineers for fast schlock rather than slow solid-as-rocks.)

Comment Re:The HELL they can't! (Score 1) 73

Being in the industry, the reason I was given was (1) the electrolyte is very expensive right now

Vanadium pentoxide (98% pure was about $6/lb and falling as of early Oct and hasn't been above $14 in years) and sulphuric acid?

and (2) investors need a demonstration of return.

Always the bottom line. B-)

Comment Re:Avoidance (Score 1) 82

Actually, this points out another possible explanation -- that distance is the effect of ethical behavior rather than the cause. This is not necessarily because the boss explicitly or intentionally demands unethical behavior from his subordinates. Often it's because bad bosses like to surround themselves with yes-men and toadies.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 205

200 parts per million might be insanely rich, but it also means you have to process over 300 pounds of ore to extract 1 oz of platinum. That's nothing to a terrestrial mining operation which might crush several tons of rock to recover a single ounce of gold, but remember they do that with mass-is-no-object machinery and consuming, from a spacecraft point of view, unthinkable amounts of power. In space operations mass and power matters a great deal.

I'm not saying it won't happen eventually, but it won't be profitable until we're measuring cost per pound to orbit in pennies rather than thousands of dollars.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 2) 205

I considered the near Earth object case. Clearly that's the easiest place to return material from; the problem is that it's coals-to-Newcastle. So far as we know the bulk of that material is stuff that's easy to get here on Earth: silicates, sulfides, iron, nickel etc. Judging from meteors found here on Earth there are exotic materials like iridium, but in trace quantities.

While there's no doubt lots of valuable stuff like platinum up there, I think people are picturing it as floating around as nuggets of largely native metal. The platinum deposits in Canada's Sudbury Basin were delivered by a meteor, but that meteor was fifteen km across. It contained a lot of Pt in absolute terms, but in relative terms the Pt was rare compared to silicates or nickel. The liquefaction of the meteor in impact separated the heavy metals into convenient deposits. If we tried to mine that object while it was in space we'd have had to crush and melt a lot of ore to get much Pt.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 4, Interesting) 205

It does not prohibit colonization, it just prohibits exclusive territorial claims.

Right, which does not necessarily prevent claiming materials found as private property.

That said, this is all a tempest in a teapot. At this stage of technology asteroid mining is about the worst imaginable investment anyone could make. It's a purely emotional investment, driven by enthusiasm, and it doesn't stand up to critical scrutiny. We don't even go after the valuable on the sea floor because the cost of finding and raising them makes that unprofitable. If there were hundred pound chunks of refinery-pure platinum floating around in the asteroid belt it would cost more to fetch and return them than they'd fetch on the market.

The economics of space travel is dominated by the cost of moving mass in and out of gravity wells and imparting the necessary acceleration to match position and velocity with targets. It follows that we're looking for stuff with the highest value/mass, and until costs drop by a couple of orders of magnitude there's only one commodity worth returning from space: knowledge. The first physical substances worth mining will be things useful in the pursuit of knowledge -- e.g. water that can be converted to rocket fuel without tankering to the outer solar system.

Comment Re:Source Code (Score 1) 48

The ransomware gets its name from the fact that the "DecryptorMax" string is found in multiple places inside its source code.

They distributed the source code with the ransomware?

Or the strings in the source code ended up generating strings in the object code and something like the "strings" tool found them.

Comment Re: Because backups are important (Score 1) 48

We can only assume they are too cheap, lazy or distracted with other things to keep frequent backups.

Or they think they ARE keeping backups, because they ARE - on a different part of the same disk, using automated processes provided and touted by the vendor - but the ransomware disables the tools and deletes the backups. Oops!

There's a difference between "backups" and "adequate, off-machine, backups".

Comment Looks to me like an oversight. (Score 1) 48

Why would you need a random .png from the Internet? Can't they just keep whatever part they need (header?) as part of the binary?

I'd guess:
  - The authors wrote the tool to use enough of the start of an encrypted/clear file pair to generate / sieve the key and deployed that.
  - Some used discovered, after the tool was deployed, that the invariant header of a .png file was long enough that any .png file could function as the "clear" for any encrypted .png (or at least that many unrelated pairs could do that.)

I'd bet that, if the authors had thought there was a nearly-universally-present file type the ransomware would chose to encrypt, with a large enough header to pull off this trick, they'd have included a canned header and the option to use it in the tool.

Comment The HELL they can't! (Score 3, Interesting) 73

That's something conventional flow batteries can't do.hat's something conventional flow batteries can't do.

The hell they can't. Industrial-scale Vanadium Redox flow batteries are doing that right now, in utility companies, and have been for a couple years. (In New Zeeland, if I recall correctly.)

I think the reason they're not more widely used already is that they're under patent protection, the company is small, and its owners don't want to license the technology or dilute their equity, so the supply is limited to their ramp-up and funding sources.

Comment Re:battery vs capacitor (Score 4, Insightful) 73

When does the battery become capacitor?

When the voltage across it is directly proportional to percentage of charge.

And they already did, many years ago. That's what "supercapacitors" are: Electrochemical cells where the charge is stored by migrating, but not ionization-state-changing, ions in a solution (rather than by migrating electrons within two conductors (one metal, the other metal or conductive liquid) separated by an insulator, as in a conventional or electrolytic capacitor, or ionization-state-changing ions in the cells of a conventional battery,where the voltage only changes slightly with state of charge until nearly full discharge.

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.