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+ - High speed evolution->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Normally the 'evolution conjures up an image of "super-long time frame" but at least in the case of lizards on Florida islands the evolution seems to have shifted to the fifth gear

Sientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species — in as little as 15 years — as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba. After contact with the invasive species, the native lizards began perching higher in trees, and, generation after generation, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found higher up

The change occurred at an astonishing pace: Within a few months, native lizards had begun shifting to higher perches, and over the course of 15 years and 20 generations, their toe pads had become larger, with more sticky scales on their feet. "We did predict that we'd see a change, but the degree and quickness with which they evolved was surprising," said Yoel Stuart, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the study

"To put this shift in perspective, if human height were evolving as fast as these lizards' toes, the height of an average American man would increase from about 5 foot 9 inches today to about 6 foot 4 inches within 20 generations — an increase that would make the average U.S. male the height of an NBA shooting guard," said Stuart. "Although humans live longer than lizards, this rate of change would still be rapid in evolutionary terms"

This latest study is one of only a few well-documented examples of what evolutionary biologists call "character displacement," in which similar species competing with each other evolve differences to take advantage of different ecological niches. A classic example comes from the finches studied by Charles Darwin. Two species of finch in the Galápagos Islands diverged in beak shape as they adapted to different food sources. The researchers speculate that the competition between brown and green anoles for the same food and space may be driving the adaptations of the green anoles. Stuart also noted that the adults of both species are known to eat the hatchlings of the other species

"So it may be that if you're a hatchling, you need to move up into the trees quickly or you'll get eaten," said Stuart. "Maybe if you have bigger toe pads, you'll do that better than if you don't""

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Comment: The US tech industry (Score 5, Insightful) 117

by Taco Cowboy (#48228567) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

Although I came in the tech field quite late (in the 1970's) I've still been around the block a few times, so here's my take ...

IBM
IBM was a sales company with strong tech foundation. Was. Now IBM has turned into a service company

Cisco
Cisco's strength was derived from teams of cracked engineers churning out amazing communication hardware. Was. Now that the cracked teams of engineers have mostly left Cisco has turned more and more like an Indian company

Microsoft
Microsoft used to be THE company that sells software that corporations need (from OS to their office suites). Used to. Now Microsoft is a company clinging onto new versions of legacy software

Apple
Apple used to be a very brave company that dare to come up with strange products that people crave for. Used to. Now Apple, much like Microsoft, is a company clingong onto new versions of legacy hardware

Comment: Slidebox Bob (Score 2) 37

by epine (#48228353) Attached to: Google Search Finally Adds Information About Video Games

Google didn't do this to make the gamers happy. They did it to make the non gamers happy, because video game culture is ladden with a rich and repurposed vocabulary that constantly shows up when people don't want to see video games in their search results.

They have to recognize games in order to remove games. Once they've gone that far, throwing up a positive infobox is Slidebox Bob.

Comment: Phone navigation vs. Car Radio (Score 1) 27

by billstewart (#48227451) Attached to: Deutsche Telecom Upgrades T-Mobile 2G Encryption In US

My car radio has Bluetooth. Works really well for phone calls, and has a good microphone built into the car ceiling near the driver. Unfortunately, it doesn't get along with the navigation applications in my phone; they're not phone calls, so it doesn't play them. (Maybe it would if I set the radio for MP3 mode or something, instead of radio? But then it wouldn't be playing the radio, whereas my Garmin doesn't care about the radio and just talks, and I pick the snarky British GPS voice because it usually doesn't sound like anybody on the radio except some BBC programs.)

Comment: Re:Steering? (Score 1) 145

by rtb61 (#48226357) Attached to: How To Beat Online Price Discrimination

It depends upon how the price is presented. If the price presented is as being 'the price of the product' as in the price to all customers or the price of the product to that person. Obviously if you are not declaring that the price is not the product price to all customers but specific price to that person, that you are fraudulently misrepresenting the nature of that price and how it was achieved.

The big lesson here, is when it is so easy to get a price on the internet don't get just one but get at least three from similarly reliable providers. Size of company is of course no measure of reliability as the modern trend of throwing as many lawyers as needed at unhappy customers to try to silence them as well as spending huge amounts on deceitful advertising to try drown out complaints that get past the lawyers, is now normal business tactic, ahh, the benefits of deregulation, 'NOT'.

Comment: Re:We rate the groups here (Score 2) 49

by rtb61 (#48226191) Attached to: Secretive Funding Fuels Ongoing Net Neutrality Astroturfing Controversy

Here's how to attack true grass roots campaigns, make a PR=B$ claim about funding transparency ie how can you have funding transparency with a true grass roots campaign when there is no group funding, the hundreds of thousands of individuals are independent from each other beyond seeking the same outcome. The reality is net neutrality suits every other business other major ISPs looking to become internet 'Publishers', attempting to block all content distribution that does not pay them a significant percentage of the income derived from that content. There are also the real problems of securing content to make sure the major ISPs can not simply onsell private information or trade secrets contained in digital communications. Every CTO should be passing onto to management the real problems with the loss of net neutrality and ensuring those concerns are passed onto their lobbyists to their politicians.

Comment: Re:Why so high? (Score 3, Insightful) 194

by rtb61 (#48226143) Attached to: Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

Then do the simpler thing and ensure the password file is securely protected and add some real time in the password entry. A simple countdown timer to slow password entry down and increasing the time each a wrong guess is made, say simply doubling of the wait time between entries ie 1 second, 2, 4, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and so it goes, with a reminder to the user of the implication of too many bad guesses. Throw in a email warning to the user when say three incorrect password attempts are made in a row. Also association IP addresses with user name passwords not locked so much as for when too many bad guesses occur as an additional flag. To go really secure put the passwords on a separate simple small cheap box and all that box does is encrypt, decrypt and test passwords and user names, nothing more. That is the only communications the box will accept and the only information the box will provide is pass or fail on that test.

The big security advantage in switching from boxes that do everything to appliances only, is that those appliances can be hardware and software configured to be able to 'ONLY' do what they have been designed to do. You make them unhackable by simply making sure they can not carry out the required functions needed to carry out the attack, they are locked into only carrying out their designed algorithms and require a specific hardware and software rebuild to do anything more. This can be done very cheaply with things a password checker. Flexibility in technology leads to a whole lot of security problems ie the system ends up doing things the user never intended.

Comment: Re:Why so high? (Score 2) 194

by firewrought (#48226055) Attached to: Passwords: Too Much and Not Enough

Why would it ever be even close to that high. Every decent system I have ever encountered raised some serious flags after 3-5 wrong guesses. If you flag an account after 10 wrong guesses, start requiring a CAPTCHA after the first one, and ban ip addresses when you detect massive multiple account attempts, you can offer security fool proof security, with, lets say, around 100 guesses.

If it only takes 100 guesses, then an attacker can slowly try passwords stretched out over time, depending on his victim's routine behavior of logging in a couple times per day to reset the fail count. Or maybe he can try 1 guess (with 1/100th odds) on each account in the target system. If there are hundreds of accounts... well, you get the idea.

IP-based banning can make this harder (forcing the attacker to find/use multiple victim PC's), but it's not widespread yet (for instance, I don't think Active Directory or slapd support it).

Comment: Re:I can't stand coupons (Score 1) 145

by firewrought (#48225875) Attached to: How To Beat Online Price Discrimination

[Coupons are] there to get people to make decisions that they otherwise wouldn't make, usually bad ones.

In addition, they serve as a form of price discrimination: you can save a nice chunk of change on groceries by taking an hour each week to clip your way thru the Sunday paper, but once you have enough disposable income (and perhaps less leisure time) it's no longer worth it.

Comment: If you are planning on dropping them... (Score 1) 43

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48224881) Attached to: A Low Cost, Open Source Geiger Counter (Video)
Does radiation detection(with actual accuracy, linearity, and repeatability, not just a quick demonstration that you can add some noise to a webcam by pointing a small sealed source at it) have currently good, or at least promising for the not too distant future, solid state options?

I'd imagine that for cost, robustness, and duration on battery power, the presence of little gas filled tubes, some with fairly delicate internal structure, that require a high voltage power supply is a necessary evil at best. In the case of a scintillation counter, the photomultiplier tube would be a similar headache.Are there better behaved options?

Comment: Re:Counterfeiters not competitors (Score 2) 523

FTDI didn't choose that specific value(though, thinking back to Intel's amusing choice of '8086' as their PCI vendor ID, you probably can choose a VID if you push hard enough or have a cute reason); but there are still some commonalities(though arguably some differences as well):

The USB spec (and, probably more importantly, USB as implemented on basically all commercially relevant systems) supports essentially two mechanisms for telling the OS what driver your device requires:

If supported by a generic class driver; your device descriptors include a bDeviceClass field containing a defined USB device class code; but isn't 0xFF(which is valid; but means 'vendor defined'), a bDeviceSubClass field with a valid subclass code, and a bDeviceProtocol field with a valid protocol code.

If your device is supported by a specific driver(or one of the hybrid arrangements, not uncommon, where a versatile device class like USB HID will be used to do most of the low-level work; but a vendor-specific driver will implement whatever device specific behavior is offered on top of that), then you need to supply the correct VID/PID combination.

Now, let me be clear, I see absolutely no reason why FTDI should need to provide driver support for clones, so even if Windows(correctly, as an OS) responds to a USB device with an FTDI VID/PID by loading the FTDI driver, it is fully within their rights to have a driver that detects and ignores non-FTDI parts.

However, (and this is where the analogy to consoles and trademarked-but-technically-necessary really comes in), the USB spec does not offer a 'compatible with VID/PID' device description option. Either you specify the appropriate generic class, or you specify a VID/PID and a vendor-specific class. There is no other way (barring atypical configurations and kernel hacker tricks that aren't of much use in the wider world) to do it.

If you want a Game Boy or whatever to load your cartridge, you need that logo to be present at the appropriate address. If you want to specify "I need the driver that supports device X", you have to supply device X's VID/PID. There is no 'compatible with device X; but actually made by me' mechanism.

If you are buying fake FTDI gear to take advantage of FTDI's driver devs, then I have no pity. Not FTDI's problem to support you. However, there are 3rd-party FTDI-device-supporting drivers (notably on Linux and BSD, maybe somebody has ported one to Windows or OSX, maybe you plan to implement your own, whatever) that it would be perfectly legitimate for an FTDI-compatible device to request, and (so long as it doesn't involve copyright or patent infringement, or fraudulent misrepresentation) there are perfectly licit non-FTDI chips that implement FTDI-compatible behavior. The USB-IF certainly doesn't have enough power over short hex values to stop that; and I'm not convinced that we would want them to.

A large number of now standard or semistandard devices, protocols, and command sets we don't even think about today started life as dirty clones of the more popular brand: The PC BIOS, the (still spoken, in extended form, by a moderately alarming number of things) Hayes command set, the 16550 UART (originally a National Semiconductor model number; now register compatibility with those is practically a standard in itself, thanks to about a zillion clones), the NE1000/2000-compatible NICs that helped make ethernet ubiquitous and cheap...

Again, FTDI has every right to make the use of their drivers contingent on the use of their ICs (or some other licensing terms, if that amuses them). Also, non-FTDI parts being sold (with varying degrees of sophistication, from pure nonsense to nearly perfect fakes) as FTDI is a bad thing. For FTDI, for the buyer being defrauded, for the electronics supply chain generally.

However, we would not be well served to be blinded to the (generally desirable and helpful, as much as incumbents dislike them) history of 3rd-party interoperable parts by lumping all of them in with 'counterfeit' parts and taking measures that make it easier to suppress them, and easier for 'counterfeit' to mean 'compatible with someone who doesn't want you to be compatible with them' rather than to mean 'based on illicitly copied designs and/or sold under fraudulent label'. These are two very different things.

Comment: Re:Counterfeiters not competitors (Score 1) 523

They could make the argument; but I'm not sure that they could win it.

It is widely accepted that you can use a protected mark, so long as you don't do so deceptively, to provide information about your product(the usual formulation is "Store brand product, compare to Product(tm) active ingredients). Not a trademark violation, even if the trademark holder might not like it; just telling the customer what your product is intended to be compatible with.

In computing applications, since the data are usually being sent to an (often inflexible and buggy) program rather than to a human, and since identifying information is often necessary for operation, even more blatant use is often accepted. Most browsers still claim to be "Mozilla/5.0" followed by a bunch of other stuff, often equally trademarked and equally false, because that particular string was the only way to get the correct output from assorted crufty HTTP servers. In more adversarial cases, like Lexmark's battle with Static Control Components over toner lockout chips, SCC ended up being allowed to duplicate an even larger chunk of Lexmark's firmware, over Lexmark's objections; because that was deemed a technically necessary part of producing an interoperable toner cartridge.

The USB VID/PID is conceptually in a similar position to the browser UA: it's not hard to find; but not really there for human readers and subject to fairly specific technical limitations if you actually want it to work. "0x0403" is a valid VID. "0x0403 (compatible; China Cloneshop)" is not. It won't even work, much less request the correct driver. USB does provide for purely descriptive, human readable, information fields ('Manufacturer String Descriptor', 'Product String Descriptor', and 'Serial Number String Descriptor') and those aren't subject to technical constraints.

I certainly wouldn't want to be on defense if I were selling a product with somebody else's trademark misused in the string descriptor fields; but the VID/PID would be much more defensible.

Comment: Re:Alternatives? Same problem.. (Score 1) 523

In this case, it is not questionable at all. They don't have any right to use the vendor ID (VID) assigned to FTDI.

Why not? The USB IF won't be happy about it, and not being able to trust VID/PID pairs makes driver devs sad and prone to resort to ugly fingerprinting heuristics; but none of that establishes a legal monopoly on "0x0403" for FTDI.

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