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Comment: Re:We desperately need unflashable firmwares (Score 1) 120

by jeffb (2.718) (#49308667) Attached to: Persistent BIOS Rootkit Implant To Debut At CanSecWest

Sure, that's a good point. Even if the Standard Update Magnet is a big, obvious device, you could make a Scamful Update Device that's a tiny but strong magnet designed to look like something innocuous leaning against the machine. But I still think it would be better than always-on reflashability.

Comment: Re:We desperately need unflashable firmwares (Score 1) 120

by jeffb (2.718) (#49292905) Attached to: Persistent BIOS Rootkit Implant To Debut At CanSecWest

If the attacker has physical access to your machine, you're pretty much hosed.

I suggest a magnetic switch because it doesn't affect the external profile of the device. Apparently everybody has decided that physical switches are ugly and horrible. Fine; hide it internally, but still make it require a physical action on the device, so remote attackers can't flip it.

Comment: Re:We desperately need unflashable firmwares (Score 4, Interesting) 120

by jeffb (2.718) (#49291305) Attached to: Persistent BIOS Rootkit Implant To Debut At CanSecWest

This. Even if you can't stand to mar your product's sleek lines with a ghastly physical switch, would it be that hard to put a reed switch somewhere along the periphery of the device, so that nobody can flash the firmware unless you first put the Big Honking Update Magnet next to it?

Comment: How's that again? (Score 2) 77

by jeffb (2.718) (#49282183) Attached to: NVIDIA To Install Computers In Cars To Teach Them How To Drive

I recognize that analyzing lots of data across lots of cars, drivers, and routes might yield useful knowledge. I'll bet there are even insights that no single human driver could ever gain.

But an awful lot of driving behavior comes from things that have nothing to do with anything this computer can monitor -- specifically, the driver's thought processes. If I slam on the brakes suddenly because I remember something I forgot at home, what will the computer make of that?/p?

Comment: Society to Preserve the Sacred Mysteries (Score 2) 170

"When a person buys an American quarter horse, they want to know that my quarter horse has the blood of these horses running through it, not copies of it."

Well, ick. Blood from horses that lived fifty or a hundred years ago must be getting seriously stinky by now.

In other news, this spokesman appears to be willfully ignorant of the most rudimentary concepts of biology. I guess "understanding" would ruin the nobility and romance of breeding...

Comment: Re:Sorry, it's a drug precursor. Not yours. (Score 1) 132

by jeffb (2.718) (#49253783) Attached to: New Molecular 3D Printer Can Create Billions of Compounds

Sure, but not at all easily. (Okay, iodine's easy if you can get hold of an iodide.) I've seen documentation of a homebrew project that successfully produced a small amount of phosphorus. It's definitely not a process I'd be willing to try, at least not in any building where I'm responsible for paying insurance.

Comment: Sorry, it's a drug precursor. Not yours. (Score 1) 132

by jeffb (2.718) (#49251279) Attached to: New Molecular 3D Printer Can Create Billions of Compounds

We can no longer buy iodine, or red phosphorus, or acetyl chloride, because they can be used to make meth. If someone makes a machine that can "print" arbitrary small molecules, what makes you think that The Authorities will view these machines any more tolerantly?

Comment: Spider Robinson warned us 30-odd years ago... (Score 5, Insightful) 386

Here's a story that I wish had served SF's goal "not to predict the future, but to prevent it":

Melancholy Elephants, by Spider Robinson

...but then again, if a significant percentage of politicians read Spider Robinson (or a significant percentage of Robinson fans went into politics), the world would be a very different place.

Comment: Re:I'm no Seleneologist but.... (Score 1) 214

by jeffb (2.718) (#49236091) Attached to: Billionaire Teams Up With NASA To Mine the Moon

Ah, QA. How we miss you back over at Fark.

I'm not surprised that your... enthusiasm?... led you to miss the word "if" in my post. I'm not making the case that we should drop everything and Build Things In Space; I'm simply answering the question "what can we get up there that we can't get more cheaply down here", and proposing one hypothetical situation where that would matter.

Now, as it turns out, I do think we'd be wise as a species to start spreading out, and I don't think that leaving Earth's biosphere will be an immediate death sentence in perpetuity (so yes, I suppose I've earned your contempt). But I don't see significant progress in that direction happening in my lifetime, and I've made my peace with that. Pleasant surprises are still welcome, though -- like rich folks putting their disposable income toward this, instead of building another mega-yacht or trying to corner the world market for iWatches. Is there anything that pleasantly surprises you these days, or is your attention entirely consumed by threads about 3D printers and space?

Comment: Re:I'm no Seleneologist but.... (Score 5, Insightful) 214

by jeffb (2.718) (#49234349) Attached to: Billionaire Teams Up With NASA To Mine the Moon

Metals and oxygen, ready to be chemically separated... already outside of Earth's gravity well, and therefore not incurring the energy costs, environmental issues, and safety concerns of launching them from Earth's sea level. That's kind of a big deal, if you want to start large-scale construction in space.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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