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Comment: It's a tool vendor, not a target, issue. (Score 1) 180

But you see you are in the Windows CE embedded niche. Your vision is clouded.

I'm not in a "windows CE embedded" niche and the grandparent poster is right.

It's not an issue with the target. It's an issue with the platform(s) supported by the development tool vendors and the chip manufacturers.

For instance: With Bluetooth 4.0 / Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), two of the premier system-on-a-chip product families are from Texas Instruments and Nordic Semiconductors.

TI developed their software in IAR's proprietary development environment and only supports that. Their bluetooth stack is only distributed in object form - for IAR's tools - with a "no reverse engineering" and "no linking to open source (which might force disclosure)". IAR, in turn, doesn't support anything but Windows. (You can't even use Wine: The IAR license manager needs real Windows to install, and the CC Debugger dongle, for burning the chip and necessary for hooking the debugger to the hardware debugging module, keeps important parts of its functionality in a closed-source windows driver.) IAR is about $3,000/seat after the one-month free evaluation (though they also allow a perpetual evaluation that is size-crippled, and too small to run the stack.)

The TI system-on-a-chip comes with some very good and very cheap hardware development platforms. (The CC Debugger dongle, the USB/BLE-radio stick, and the Sensor Tag (a battery-powered BLE device with buttons, magnetometer, gyro, barometer, humidity sensor, ambient temp sensor, and IR remote temp sensor), go for $49 for each of the three kits.) Their source code is free-as-in-beer, even when built into a commercial product, and gives you the whole infrastructure on which to build your app. But if you want to program these chips you either do it on Windows with the pricey IAR tools or build your own toolset and program the "bare metal", discarding ALL TI's code and writing a radio stack and OS from scratch.

Nordic is similar: Their license lets you reverse-engineer and modify their code (at your own risk). But their development platforms are built by Segger and the Windows-only development kit comes with TWO licenses. The Segger license (under German law), for the burner dongle and other debug infrastruture, not only has a no-reverse-engineering clause but also an anti-compete: Use their tools (even for comparison while developing your own) and you've signed away your right to EVER develop either anything similar or any product that competes with any of theirs.

So until the chip makers wise up (or are out-competed by ones who have), or some open-source people build something from scratch, with no help from them, to support their products, you're either stuck on Windows or stuck violating contracts and coming afoul of the law.

Comment: Re:Preferred Screening Gender (Score 1) 153

by Rich0 (#47432107) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

Do you have a choice of the gender of the TSA screener, or just a right to one of the same gender?

Must make it fun dealing with people with Klinefelter's. Just how do you define "gender" in today's society? Today we're just getting started with the marriage debate, but in 20 years we'll progress to figuring out what to do with bathrooms and workplace etiquette.

Comment: Re:Wait a minute... (Score 1) 153

by Rich0 (#47432067) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

So, as others pointed out acetaminophen is actually fairly dangerous as drugs go. However, let's pick on something like ibuprofen instead which is definitely safer.

Today even ibuprofen would have trouble making it as a non-prescription drug.

Pain-killers in general have the deck stacked against them. For something like a heart medication to get on the market you basically have to show that it saves more lives than it takes. So, if it prevents 10k more heart attacks per year than any other drug on the market, and it kills 10 people per year due to liver toxicity, then it isn't hard to get it approved.

Painkillers don't benefit from this kind of calculus. If it kills 3 people a year, you can't point to a single life that they save to balance it out. So, our regulatory system tends to keep painkillers off the market. It is hard to balance lives cut short vs long lives lived in agony.

Diet medications have a lot of problems with suicide and tend to be kept off the market for the same reason. (Which makes me really wonder about the interaction between diet, obesity, and depression - eating is a basic instinct and we already know that people eat when they're upset - the need to eat is in many ways driven by emotion.)

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 3, Interesting) 164

by Rich0 (#47429921) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

And this is part of why all the drug development work ends up happening in private industry.

A scientist will come up with a molecule that inhibits some enzyme and get some publishable result. At that point they issue the typical "possible cure for cancer" press release and move on to the next thing. 5 years and $10M later a pharma company figures out that it causes heart valve degeneration or that inhibiting the enzyme isn't the magic bullet everybody hoped for. They don't bother publishing it, but none of their scientists get paid by the publication anyway. The companies interest is that if it eventually works out they make billions.

So, in that sense you actually have an example of a way in which industrial research is actually less risk-averse than academia, which should be shocking.

That said, when it comes to the basic research side of things pharma companies do tend to let the academics do the work for them.

Comment: Re:So (Score 1) 295

When you think about it, this is the only sensible approach. Do you want every municipality that owns a helicopter to be trying to police aircraft that are flying overhead? Maybe the plane's registration is bogus. Great, call it in to the FAA as a good citizen and let them deal with it.

There are a lot of safety issues when you try to deal with issues in the air. Indeed, I've heard ATC recordings where ATC is basically trying to ream somebody out for not following procedures correctly, and that is also something that shouldn't happen. Deal with problems on the ground - if somebody violates the rules they should record it and refer it for enforcement action and write up a report. Trying to deal with problems in the air just means you're putting others at risk by not doing your job.

I'm all for enforcement, but at the right time and place.

Comment: Re:Say what you will about the US (Score 1) 97

Agree. The US even has the FCPA - it is outright illegal to bribe foreign officials. That law isn't enforced as well as it probably could be, but it is enforced and you do hear about a scandal from time to time. I know that my employer trains on the act and makes compliance a clear policy (though I have no idea how much they follow-through in practice - I wouldn't be privy to enforcement actions).

I'm not sure to what degree this is the case in other countries.

Comment: Re:Multirole aircraft DON'T WORK. (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47424913) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Yeah, I was thinking something much smaller/lighter. Almost something fieldable by an amateur (the telescope itself would be in the amateur range, but the drone would be a bit large if you wanted it to go high-altitude.

I've read in astronomy forums (a while ago) that there is a lot of emphasis on really big telescope projects, but for much less money you can get a lot of science done if you take a much smaller instrument but manage it professionally (automation, calibration, etc). It isn't unlike in computing where there is a place for both the big fancy supercomputer with high memory bandwidth and super-fast CPU, and the massively parallel commodity cluster. Different problems are best solved with either approach. Maybe the Hubble can image galaxies at the edge of the visible universe, but for the same price you could have 20,000 cheap telescopes doing continuous surveys of large regions of the sky. Each has its place.

Comment: Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47424875) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

For the 3rd world, though, the A10 seems risky. Its main advantage is getting in low and slow and basically fighting "melee" against batallions of vehicles.

For what it does it is a GREAT platform, but you wouldn't send a lot of these against an enemy and not expect losses. They've vulnerable to fire from MANPADs and such which even terrorist groups could have.

What they can do is fly in at 300 feel where the nearby SA-10 site won't see them and drop bombs, while the F15s would be shot down 80 miles away by the SAM.

If the enemy doesn't have advanced SAMs, then the F15 can just loiter at 40k feet and drop a bomb when requested. Nothing a terrorist has is going to be able to touch it, and if there are older SAMs those can be effectively destroyed at the start of the mission.

I agree that drones are really where everybody should be going. Just look at them like multi-stage cruise missiles. A drone would have a lower radar cross section due to its size, it WOULD be cheaper/faster to mass-produce/replace, and it could fly the terminal portion of its mission at very low altitude. It only costs money, so fighting a war of attrition is politically acceptable - losing 1000 drones in a fight isn't the same as losing 1000 pilots with the POWs being fought over for decades later. It also enables distraction tactics that involve sacrificing aircraft.

Comment: Re:So SSL is nothing more than an honor system? (Score 2) 107

by Rich0 (#47424065) Attached to: India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates

SSL goes beyond the naivety of government trust. It also suffers from what amounts to a global namespace/trust/etc issue.

Any CA can issue a certificate for any domain, a domain generally can only have one certificate, and the trusted CA list is managed by the browser, not the user.

So, if you trust your government (naievely), and distrust everybody else, it won't work. Your browser will constantly be wanting to add CAs you don't trust, and might not include ones you trust. Then, if you drop a bunch of CAs then a bunch of websites won't work. A website doesn't have the option of getting certificates from 14 different CAs so as to be trusted by everybody - they have to pick one and everybody has to trust them.

So, users are basically forced to accept CAs they've never heard of, and the whole system is a mess as a result.

Comment: Re:Multirole aircraft DON'T WORK. (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47421721) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

That makes me wonder if you couldn't stick a somewhat decent telescope on top of a drone. I'm talking something in the 12-18" range - not some monster that should be on top of a mountain. There is probably a lot of science that could be done with a very good quality small mirror with little atmosphere and always above the clouds. If you wanted to go really high you'd need turbines though - so it would be reasonably large (need lots of fuel, relatively speaking). Stability would be important - one of the advantages of no atmosphere is that you can take very long exposures without much background.

Comment: Re:Capabilities (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47421691) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Do you think it's strategically possible to get into a shooting war with China and/or Russia, two nuclear-capable nations, and emerge meaningfully victorious? Does the F-35 change that? Why or why not?

It depends on the objectives. If your goal is to annex them, no.

If your goal is to deter a conflict, or fight a conflict over some remote piece of land where the war could possibly be contained, then maybe. Nobody has incentive to start a nuclear war, so it would likely stay conventional. Meaningful missile defense might also have an impact on the calculus - if a small nuclear strike could be reliably defeated that would probably make a foe less likely to try to escalate to a regional nuclear conflict (all in is just suicide).

However, it would be really costly for all sides, so the interest would have to be something actually worth fighting for. The US could probably deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine, for example, by stationing forces in Lithuania sufficient to threaten Moscow. The relative strength of both sides would probably allow a US victory (crazy thought), if the Russians didn't kill everybody on Earth, but it would depend on them actually allowing a US buildup, since we're separated by an ocean and resupply in that area would be very threatened by Russian Navy/Air/etc. Most likely there would be a Naval war, which could result in attacks on US ports/interior/etc, but on the whole the Russians don't have much of a navy these days and they wouldn't last too long.

But, like I said it would have to be an interest worth fighting for and the US really isn't going to risk even conventional bombs going off in DC and Manhattan and Saudi Arabia over Ukraine. So, all the above is really just a fantasy scenario. Maybe if somebody like Russia went really nuts going after US vital interests it would come to war, but that seems rather unlikely. But, on the other hand having modern weapons platforms only makes it less likely.

Comment: Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47421651) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

He has some valid points (I only listed to most of the first part), but I'm not sure it is entirely current. For example, he claims that it is trivial for maneuverable aircraft to dodge SAMs. That was true back in the Vietnam days (though we still lost many), and true in Iraq (which was basically Modern US vs Vietnam-era Iraq), but if we go into a modern war those fighters will have to dodge the likes of SA-10s. The missile sensors are much harder to fool, and they have thrust vectoring and are very light at their terminal stage which basically makes them potentially very hard to evade.

Even stealth aircraft are unproven in that scenario since nobody reveals their full capabilities. We'll never know until we actually get into a war with somebody who can actually hurt us, instead of bombing countries that are 30 years behind.

The US likes to maintain foreign interests like Eastern Europe, Taiwan, etc that are very far away from us but fairly close to whoever they're likely to get into conflict with. That means that the US will need all the capability it can get in a war. Since our fighters will be tanker-supported from fields hundreds of miles away, we'll probably be outnumbered, and fighting near foreign territory. Also, the US likes to meddle and voters don't like to hear about dead pilots.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 2) 583

by donscarletti (#47421007) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

However, one thing that has always bothered me is when we say "well we're using ruby xx.xx (or node xx.xx or php xx.xx or whatever) on our development machines, so we must install that version on production" and then the hoops taken to do that. It should be "production can run ruby xx.xx so that's what you have to develop against".

I doubt that will ever be the case.

The main issue is, developers usually have a work backlog and those in charge have very little interest in what version everyone is running. If it already works on _a_ platform version, then chances are that the users will get better value for the developers time through adding another feature to the web app itself, than whatever benefits the upgrade or downgrade in platform version will bring.

You can try negotiating with the development team before the work commences though, or putting it in the initial delivery requirements if it is outsourced. It's just you would have to take initiative here, since nobody in your average business would consider operations to be a stakeholder until the system is live, so nobody is going to go out of their way ask you.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_