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Comment: Underthinking the problem ... (Score 1) 87

by golodh (#47954751) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set
As usual with BillyBob and his "coussins", the other extreme is *under-thinking* the problem.

The problem is to find those drones in the first place, especially if they're coming in low and slow, or high enough to be out of slingshot range.

The "droneshield" thingy seems to tackle the problem by analysing ambient sounds. From the webpage the article refers to:

Drones present many threats to military and homeland security forces and facilities. "Low, Slow, and Small" UAS are a growing threat that legacy CUAS will not detect. DroneShield compliments (sic) radar and RF detection systems against smaller, low signature UAS because acoustic emissions are difficult to conceal or spoof.

So it tells you if it hears a drone buzzing nearby, which is useful, ... but it doesn't (yet) do target-acquisition for BillyBob's anti-drone-slingshot batteries.

Comment: Grow up ... and learn about Engineering (Score 4, Informative) 246

by golodh (#47952327) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?
That's my advice. Mainstream engineering isn't about individuals, let alone "stars". It's about reliably delivering commodities, in bulk, standardised, to spec and within budget.

Maintenance programming is an example. Large development projects under the "waterfall" method (often) is an example. Custom-building standard systems is another. In such cases you're better off with predictable but competent standardised performance from a team of 9-5 programmers that with mob of empassioned risk-takers.

This "passion" thing is needed when individual performance counts. As in: when the "old" way of doing things no longer suffices (the old machinery has bogged down and needs to be replaced by something new), or when clear efficiency improvements can be realised (this is common engineering practice), or when there is room to experiment (e.g. in Open Source Software), or when your task is to see how far the envelope can be pushed and to come up with something new (e.g. research).

Of course there's a difference between not keeping up with mainstream engineering (as the opening post suggests) and spending your time "innovating" when there are adequate standard methods available.

Comment: Not just cars ... (Score 5, Insightful) 129

This is true of your thermostat, your fridge, and pretty much anything else which is a part of this "internet of things".

Every aspect about what these devices does will be analyzed, used for marketing information, handed over to law enforcement, or your insurance company, or anybody who hacks into it.

For some of us, this whole IoT is a privacy nightmare waiting to happen, and we have no interest whatsoever in it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people like to see that as a sign that you're paranoid and getting alarmist about things which will never happen.

And then, like the widespread surveillance being misused (which they swore would never happen), parallel construction (which is perjury in my books), or the scope creep we see all around us ... almost inevitably this comes true and people act surprised.

Sorry, but I for one will not be enabling this crap. It just seems like technology for the sake of it, and by the time people realize that those among us who have been saying this will be a problem were right, it's too damned late.

Unless there are laws governing how a company can use the information, and some controls over law enforcement to prevent them from getting this and misusing it ... the internet of things is a terrible idea, and will not make your life better. The sheer amount of information about every aspect of your life which will be in someone else's hands is staggering.

In the end, I predict it will make our lives far worse, and usher in even more of this surveillance society we've been seeing.

We can't trust them with the information they have now, let alone from another bunch of sources in your life.

You really think the government won't insist on getting all this data without a warrant? And they won't claim you have no reasonable expectation of privacy and that they should be entitled to know where everybody is at all times? Or that corporations won't sell this for marketing purposes? Or to deny you service?

Hell no. Now, pass the tin foil please.

Comment: Re:It's about time (Score 1) 226

by gstoddart (#47939241) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

And, the corollary to the parent post is ... even if you will never come up with some breakthrough or advancement in the field ... do it anyway.

So, you may not get published, or find something which rocks the community. Who gives a damn?

Do it for yourself. Have fun with it. You're old enough to understand that the reward doesn't come from anything but you.

After a bunch of years, who knows where you'll end up?

Comment: Astronomy club? (Score 4, Informative) 226

by gstoddart (#47938213) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

I can't give you any specific advice, but maybe a local astronomy club?

I know one of the people who discovered Hale-Bopp is a gifted amateur, and I'm quite certain lots of stuff by amateurs happens which is pretty cool.

In fact, I get the impression lots of amateurs can give coverage which the "pros" can't really do just because of the sheer number of amateurs.

Good luck with it. Hopefully people can point you at more concrete stuff, but you'd hardly be the first amateur who contributed something to the field if you get there.

Comment: Re:This won't amount to anything... (Score 1) 120

by Stuntmonkey (#47937085) Attached to: Scientists Twist Radio Beams To Send Data At 32 Gigabits Per Second

But there is the possibility that the demodulation/modulation methodology is easier to implement than other fast modulation schemes.

This is the key point. MIMO schemes require a lot of complexity in the receiver, which is workable at Wifi/LTE frequencies of a few GHz where you can get electronics to reliably function. Here he's working at millimeter wave frequencies (30GHz to 300GHz) were electronics either doesn't function, or is extremely expensive. You could think of this work as a MIMO-like spatial multiplexing scheme that doesn't require complex processing in the receiver, and is therefore implementable at very high frequencies.

As others have noted it's a separate question whether and how this could scale up to real environments. What elicits research interest in millimeter waves is the potential for much higher bandwidth than LTE is capable of, plus the fact that millimeter waves can propagate a kilometer or so through air. So although it's still futuristic, one can start to imagine what a millimeter-wave wireless communications network would look like.

Comment: Really? (Score 1) 61

by gstoddart (#47933671) Attached to: Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks

the Trojan gets delivered to users via the Rig exploit kit, which uses Flash and Silverlight exploits. The victims get saddled with the malware when they unknowingly visit a website hosting the exploit kit

Say it isn't so! Flash and Silverlight got used as a security hole? Well, I'm truly shoc ... oh, fuck it ... this is exactly why I don't install this shit in my browsers, and why I don't let strange websites run scripts.

Flash has been a gaping security hole about as long as it has existed.

I can only assume Silverlight is little better, but the only browser I have it in is IE on a work machine because we need it to run some in-house software.

But I don't let that browser touch the real internet. Because I don't let IE access the internet unless every other browser has failed.

I'm afraid I no longer have any sympathy when I hear people got hacked via Flash. Because at this point, it's hardly surprising.

Comment: Mechanical stresses ... (Score 4, Informative) 190

by gstoddart (#47929697) Attached to: Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

I seem to recall a news story from a few years ago where they'd tried to put wave power in the Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides in the world are.

OpenHydro -- the Irish company which installed the world's first 1-megawatt tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy -- and its partner Nova Scotia Power deployed the 10-tonne turbine on the floor of the Minas Passage in November 2009.

Then just 20 days later, all 12 turbine rotor blades were destroyed by tidal flows that were two and a half times stronger than for what the turbine was designed.

Basically, the tides destroyed the machinery in three weeks or so.

So, yes, there's plenty of mechanical energy to harvest. The problem is that it might also be stronger than the stuff you've built.

Comment: Re:One day, someone will explain it to me. (Score 2) 115

by gstoddart (#47929289) Attached to: Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

But most of all, if the product and implementation have security flaws that have been exploited, don't buy them.

I rank that statement as about as intelligent as "if the food is contaminated, don't eat it". It's trite, ignores the problem, and acts like somehow consumers would actually know this.

The reality is, by the time it's known to have happened, and they actually tell people about it, it's too damned late.

Given the terrible approach most of these companies have to security, the fact that they hide the fact that they've been exploited, or are otherwise unaware that they've been exploited ... I sure as hell wouldn't trust them to know, or notify us if their security proves to be crap.

I just assume their security is crap from the beginning, because it usually is.

Comment: Re:One day, someone will explain it to me. (Score 1) 115

by gstoddart (#47927933) Attached to: Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

I think remote door lock/access control makes sense for some people.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

You really think having an external entity using a (possibly insecure) network connection to unlock your doors isn't something which will be very attractive?

Figure out who has this technology, and then exploit the hell out of it.

I'm imagining someone waiting for you to leave for work, driving up to your house, disabling your alarm, and unlocking your doors. And then tidying up after themselves, reset the alarm and lock the doors.

Sorry, but the track record of people who make devices when it comes to security tells me that I think this is a terrible idea.

But, hey, if you want to hang your home security outside of your firewall ... you should totally do that.

Comment: LOL ... no thanks ... (Score 1) 115

by gstoddart (#47927609) Attached to: Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

So, the intent here is that I'm going to install a bunch of devices with dubious security (and which likely provide my information for marketing/analytic purposes), to do tasks I can already do now, and have the whole thing controlled by a single source using protocols which themselves have dubious security, and which have the potential to either damage the stuff in my house or cost me money?

Have I got this right?

Because, really, nothing about this scenario sounds appealing to me. It just seems like technology for the sake of technology.

The privacy and security implications of this "smart" home make me want to grab another layer of tinfoil.

I'm sure there will be nerds salivating over being able to use their smart phone to flush the toilet. But I have no interest whatsoever in this stuff.

Why does the exciting new future always seem like rehashed ideas which nobody really actually has any need of and which are mostly toys for people with too much money?

Comment: Re:I hate to be this guy... (Score 1) 186

If everyone stopped buying cars, how exactly would that help the poor people of the world? We would just have a lot of autoworkers getting laid off. In a macroeconomic sense ALL of the money we spend ends up in the hands of other people, helping someone. Like nearly everything else we spend money on, space exploration is part of the "wealthy economy" in that most of those billions will end up in the hands of first-world people (SpaceX employees, various subcontractors' employees, etc.).

Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 391

by gstoddart (#47925951) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

LOL ... I'm past my coding years by now.

But my counter point would be that many operating systems have been built in C, and people who rely too much on "modern compilers" often don't know what's really happening. I cut my teeth doing OS-level programming in C at the interrupt-handler level. Good times.

I'm not saying people should start all new projects in C, but a good solid grounding in C really does give one a good perspective on what's really happening in the innards of your code. It's about as close to "bare metal" programming as you can get without assembly.

I've met a few coders who had only ever worked at very high level stuff, and a lot of what they did more or less relied heavily on libraries they didn't really understand, or have any sense of the performance impacts when used inefficiently.

That being said, hand rolling your own memory management isn't something I really miss.

But every now and then I still like to sing a few bars of:

Pointers to pointers to printf()-like functions;
Unary minus and nested conjunctions;
Integers, booleans, characters, strings;
These are a few of my favourite things.

Because, "Pointers to pointers to printf()-like functions" was a pretty nifty language feature sometimes.

You could do some pretty neat things in C.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam