Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Typical politician... (Score 1) 106

So he was for gravity waves before he was against them. Thank you, Senator Einstein. If you were still alive, it would be fun to watch you debate Bernie Sanders, who has no particular affection for the laws of thermodynamics and other pesky reality-check-type stuff. But the debate would be very colorful, a lot like sitting near a table at an early bird buffet in Florida and listening in. No, wait, I'm thinking of that most recent PBS-hosted debate.

Comment Re:FAA doing it right (Score 1) 72

Really? You don't have room in your head for two concepts?

The FAA can't do it (because of section 336, which is why the administration has tried to weasel it in through the DoT instead) AND the FAA shouldn't do it (because it's not only utterly pointless, it also wastes money and provides a glaring breach of privacy for hobbyists that will become fishing targets for every neighborhood crank and axe-grinding reporter looking for "drone" operators in their ZIP code, much like those that have published interactive maps of where the gun owners are on a given street).

CAN'T is a legal thing, plainly stated in the 2012 FMRA. SHOULDN'T is a common sense thing that is of course being ignored by those who simply like to expand intrusive government into your personal life for the purpose of ... expanding government into your life, period. The only political support for this comes from those pandering to low-information idiots stoked by deliberately misleading media entities and witless social media mavens looking for clicks.

And ... using words with unique definitions? What will I stoop to next? That is really intolerable, isn't it? I presume you'd rather try to praise this DoT action and wish away plain exempting language in an existing law by using ... what, deliberately vague words that have enough different meanings to let off the hook of having to mean what you say and say what you mean? Yeah, there's a lot of that going around.

Comment Re:FAA doing it right (Score 1) 72

We're not talking about what the government CAN do, we're talking about whether or not their absurd toy owner registration system is a valid program (what government SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do). You're calling me names for saying that it is NOT a sensible program, even as you yourself say it's impossible to enforce. And you won't address your own hypocrisy on the matter. Do you really still support an "impossible to enforce" regulatory burden, along with its associated costs and loss of privacy, forcing people flying half-pound RC toys to expose their names and contact information for no useful reason? If you do support it, why aren't you actually addressing the substance of the matter?

As for the new rule being illegal: yes, it's being challenged in court on exactly the grounds that it's not (because it directly violates section 336 in the 2012 FMRA, which you'd know if you bothered to keep up). The administration KNOWS it's illegal if done by the FAA, which is why they went for what they hope will be a hard-to-contest loophole, and decided to make the Department of Transportation force toy owners to pay to register their use of 9-ounce toys. You know, because 13 year olds flying 9 ounce foam toys in their back yard are definitely right up there with interstate trucking and commercial passenger jets when it comes to matters that should be in front of the DoT.

Comment Re:FAA doing it right (Score 1) 72

So, I'm right, and you just can't bring yourself to admit it. Resorting to ad hominem, just like so many people who are confronting internal hypocrisy do in order to avoid reconciling their contradictory premises.

So, you're calling me all sorts of things for pointing out that the FAA is outside of its legal bounds on this, that the entire effort is pointless, etc. So, you are implying that you feel differently about that, in some way. Which way? Be specific. And reconcile your preference for some situation in keeping with what the FAA has done (which, since you're complaining about my opposition to it, must be the case), with your assertion that what the administration has done is "impossible" to actually enforce. If you think it's impossible to enforce but still think federally registering 9-ounce toy operators is a good idea, reconcile that, in detail. If you think it shouldn't have been put into place, then explain why you're bitching at me for saying the same thing. Try to avoid the lazy ad hominem, though, since it just makes you look juvenile.

Comment Re:Why only trees? (Score 1) 74

And, then it says, you just put hundreds of thousands of these things under highways, and start reaping a non-trivial amount of electricity

And cause a non-trivial increase in rolling resistance and reduction in mileage of the victim vehicles. That energy had to come from somewhere, and collecting it has side-effects.

TANSTAAFL: The first law of thermodynamics as well as economics.

The trees, on the other hand, may appreciate some energy-absorbing sway damping - especially in a storm. (As long as it doesn't interfere with pumping the water up the trunk to the leaves, of course.)

Comment Re:Too bad they pushed Love out (Score 1) 225

Oops, got the history horribly mixed up. Try this:

Written in 1976, under licensing granting source use in classes, suppressed with the release of System 7 in 1979, which didn't include this license term, (after which Unix source code was deleted from classes and the two-volume set became an underground copier-room classic), general distribution of "ancient source" (including System 6) authorized by SCO and the book reprinted with the 1977 version of the commentary (plus a forward by Ritchie) in 1996.

Comment Re:Too bad they pushed Love out (Score 1) 225

What was the title of those text books?

Lions' Commentary on UNIX 6th Edition, with Source Code, a.k.a. "The Lions Book".

Written in 1976, under licensing granting source use in classes, suppressed with the release of System 7, which didn't include this license term, (after which Unix source code was deleted from classes and the two-volume set became an underground copier-room classic), general distribution of "ancient source" (including System 6) authorized by SCO in 1976, reprinted in 1977 with updated commentary and again with added historical commentary in 1996.

See the above-referenced Wikipedia article for ISBNs, more details, and links to more history.

Comment They can still be useful (Score 1) 271

Pagers tend to have better reception than cell phones, at least fairly recently when I last looked this up for my own curiosity. Also, many paging companies have "TAP" servers that you can dial into with a modem to send pages. This is could make a nice last-resort fallback for when a data center has lost network access and you can still provide outbound alerting via a backup landline.

Comment Why is the splash screen cyan? (Score 1) 97

It seems like emulated old versions of Windows end up with cyan where they're supposed to be white, and it's been this way for ages. I used to run Win 3.1 under PC-Task on my Amiga to handle one specific business app, and the splash screens even back then were cyan instead of white. That's still true in my browser just now when I launched a couple of the article's emulators. Why would that be? Is there some bug in ancient VGA hardware that Windows exploited to render white instead of greenish-blue?

Comment Re:FAA doing it right (Score 1) 72

There are all sorts of small foam park fliers and silly little quad toys that weigh far too little to be any security threat whatsoever, but which have owners who have now been swept up into this new public-facing database scheme. People flying inconsequential balsa-wood RC models they built 30 years ago will be breaking the law a week from now. The FAA's Huerta says that enforcement will include visits to flying clubs and encouragement for neighbors to contact law enforcement (they've provided local LEOs with cheat sheets explaining how to report unregistered hobbyists and how to get that info to the DoT for enforcement). Huerta said, in one of the related press conferences that they intend to go after "anything that flies."

If you are presuming that - despite what they are coming right out and saying repeatedly - they don't intend to enforce the 250g end of the spectrum of toys, why do you suppose they sat around for weeks in meetings with regulators, manufacturers, pilots associations, etc., and issued a rule that includes those toys, along with language saying how they did so because of the critical, life-threatening safety issues that they represent? If you think that's all nonsense that shouldn't be enforced, then why are you defending the administration for putting a kid with a 9-ounce RC toy in federal legal jeopardy?

100% of homicides SHOULD be dealt with. 100% of kids flying 9-ounce toys should NOT be dealt with. You understand this isn't about a rules governing what happens when someone causes an injury or property damage ... this is about making the act of using that 9-ounce toy illegal (subject to both civil and federal criminal penalities) the moment you hover the toy one inch off of your back yard grass. You think the FAA won't bother themselves with grandpa's unregistered use of a 1-pound model he's been flying in circles at an AMA field for years ... so why aren't you calling for the new executive order that criminalizes his hobby to be undone? Are you really a fan of wasting millions of dollars to set up an entire new registration and enforcement regime to address things that you think don't need to be enforced? Why?

Comment Re:FAA doing it right (Score 1) 72

Your argument is that we should wait for a tragedy to make rules to prevent a tragedy.

No, my argument is that telling a 13 year old girl that she has to have her name in a public-facing federal database in order to fly a 9-ounce pink plastic RC copter from a mall kiosk, or face a $20,000 fine will do exactly NOTHING to prevent a bad guy from doing all of the horrible murderous things that we're seeing done with RC toys. Oh, right - there are literally millions of them in the hands of people, with untold millions of flight hours on them, and we're not actually seeing any of that. But you're pretty sure that someone looking to do harm will step up and register their name with the feds, and then write their identifying information on the RC airplane they're going to use to deliberately hurt people? Are you really thinking this through?

Comment Re: Are there that many drone in the air in the US (Score 2) 72

The FAA is banned from regulating model aircraft if I recall.

Which is why the Obama administration just instituted their new RC aircraft owner registration system (you have to sign up by the 19th of this month, or face up to $20,000 in fines ... and that includes operating any toy RC machine as small as just under 9 ounces/250g) through the Department Of Transportation instead of through the FAA. It's a sleazy maneuver that directly goes against the spirit of the law congress passed to prevent exactly such things from happening.

Hopefully you're not surprised that an administration that has been found repeatedly by federal courts to have overstepped separation of powers by issuing unconstitutional executive orders would be trying to once again work around the law?

Doesn't matter. Most people who fly RC planes for fun can't afford to fight the administration in court or risk that $20,000 fine. There are a couple of groups trying to take the matter to court, but that will drag out years. In the meantime, we have to play along with the illegal action by the administration.

Comment Re:Too bad they pushed Love out (Score 5, Interesting) 225

SYS V needs to go open next, not that overloaded slowlaris, but lean mean SYS V

I was under the impression that the entire POINT of SYS V was for the major UNIX vendors to re-implement the guts of Unix as a clearly, enforceably, proprietary product (after the CONTU recommendations and the resulting copyright law changes explicitly extended copyright to software), then move to it and orphan the original development thread. (This might make opening it a hard sell to the members of the consortium.)

There were at least a couple issues with the proprietary status of the AT&T code:

One issue was that AT&T was still a government-regulated utility monopoly and there were some requirements about disclosing and releasing non-telephone-related inventions they came up with.

The big issue was that, before copyright applied and before software patents were hacked up (by recasting software as one embodiment of, or a component of, a patentable machine or process), the only protection was trade secret and the related contract law. Trade secrets generally stop being enforceable when the secret out of the bag (with some details about whether the claimant contributed to the leak). Bell Labs had shipped code to a LOT of educational institutions. When the U of New South Wales used the System 6 kernel code and an explanation of it as the two-volume text for an Operating System class, the textbooks became an underground classic. This, along with AT&T's benign-neglect licensing policies, led to the burst of little, cheap, generic UNIX boxes, as this was also when microcomputer chips were just becoming powerful enough to do the job.

Up to then a big barrier to entry was that every new machine needed a custom O.S. to deploy, and these were enormous, machine specific, and mostly in assembler. That made it an expensive, undertaking, suitable only for financial giants. But all but under 2,000 lines of Unix was in C, and the entire kernel, which included essentially all the platform-specific code as a subset, was well under 10,000 lines of code. If you had a C compiler and assembler for your new machine, it was a matter of a few man-months to port it and get it up and running. Essentially ALL the utilities and applications came right over. You didn't have to train users, either, because they all worked pretty much just like what they'd used in college.

The game was:
1. Grab a bootleg copy of the code.
2. Port it to your machine and get it working.
3. Go to AT&T and ask for a license "to port Unix to our new machine and sell it."
4. AT&T, as a matter of policy, completely ignores any "violations" you may have committed during the porting phase and cuts you a license at a very reasonable price.
5. You "port Unix in an AMAZINGLY short time" (like the ten minutes it takes to tell Sales to go to market) and you're in business.
6. You (with your new business) and AT&T (with their small cut) slap each other on the back and laugh all the way to the bank. PROFIT! for you. (profit) for AT&T.
7. Because of the policy in 4., everybody ELSE manearly everbody's king a new machine knows they can do the same thing. So many do. AT&T gets a rakeoff from ALL of them. PROFIT! for AT&T. Far more than if they went dog-in-the-manger, held up the first few for all the traffic would bear, and got no more customers for Unix.

And because of this, it was in nearly everbody's interest to NOT challenge the AT&T-proprietary status of Unix. And it stayed this way until SCO's management screwed up and altered step 4. (Even then the case turned on other issues, so it never did come to the point of attacking AT&T's claim that Unix code was proprietary.)

Slashdot Top Deals

Administration: An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. -- Ambrose Bierce