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Comment: Uh, let's see now... (Score 1) 160

"explosives, flammable solvents, cocaine...

Depending on how specific their criteria, and how high they set the detection thresholds, the following people could be in for serious grief:

1) Gardeners and farmers - (nitrate compounds from fertilizer, + fuel oil from any of a dozen sources)
2) Painters, mechanics, people with Zippo lighters, people who use hand sanitizer, people who gas up their own vehicles - (flammable solvents)
3) Anyone who handles paper money (cocaine)

They'd be better off doing genetic research to figure out how to give us all the olfactory capabilities of blood hounds. Then none of us would have any secrets from each other. Of course, the ass-sniffing thing would get old pretty fast.

Comment: Re:Slashvertisement event horizon (Score 4, Informative) 485

My thoughts exactly. A discussion of the merits of add-on vs built-in sound hardware is worthwhile on its own terms; but basing the discussion on a specific add-on card, with the flimsy excuse of one company's 25th anniversary, strikes me as blatant shilling.

Comment: What's the "emergency"? (Score 4, Insightful) 146

by jenningsthecat (#47424539) Attached to: UK Gov't Plans To Push "Emergency" Surveillance Laws


"I'll be explaining today why emergency legislation is needed to maintain powers to help keep us safe from those who would harm UK citizens."

— David Cameron

No need to explain, David. We all know this is just another excuse for more power-hoarding privacy invasion, and that "those who would harm UK citizens" are in fact you and your masters. Kindly stop pretending and man up. The only "emergency" here is the fear fantasy you're manufacturing and trying to get UK citizens to swallow.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 2) 586

by jenningsthecat (#47414907) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Normal humans are excluded from a lot of things.

1. Olympic Gold Medal 2. 5x Jeopardy Champion 3. Professional Concert Pianist 4. Bolshoi Ballet 5. Supermodel etc.

The idea is to find your niche in life and exploit it. Not call the whaaambulance.

Sure. But lots of people participate in sports, just not at the Olympic level. Lots of people play Jeopardy, play the piano, dance, and vamp for photos, to the betterment of their own lives and for the entertainment of both themselves and others. How many people are 'casual programmers' in the sense that they can do a little bit of programming to enrich their own lives and those of others in their immediate circle?

I see this as being more about moving away from excessive specialization and exclusiveness, rather than making all programming so simple that dedicated, hard working, deeply knowledgeable programmers are no longer required. We still need wizards to maintain, improve, and expand the underpinnings and structure of programming, and do the really complex stuff. But it's time for average people to have the ability to develop some basic applications, just as they can now produce photographs that two decades ago would have been the exclusive domain of professional photographers.

Comment: Re:Well, sort of. (Score 1) 109

by jenningsthecat (#47381087) Attached to: Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

HUGE problem with this theory.

The power grid operates on incredibly tight tolerances with regard to frequency...

FTA: "It found fundamental differences in the structure of the harmonics of the 50 Hz which could be detected because Total Harmonic Distortion was strongly affected by local factors and had as a result little geographical consistency."

Not that any of this is likely to matter. Even if they had a unique spectrum capture of a specific location at a specific time for comparison purposes, turning one computer on, (or off), would totally change the harmonic signature appearing on the local wiring, thereby making the reference capture useless. And a vacuum cleaner running would really mess things up.

For anyone worried about this, running a randomly-swept audio generator through a frequency range of, say, 20 to 150 Hz, and injecting the signal into the audio capture at a level that is just audible without being too annoying, should seriously reduce any chances of the 'power line signature' being traced.

Now if someone is actually injecting a unique signal into the grid for a defined geographic area, countermeasures would be more involved. Recording in a very good Faraday cage, using battery power only, with no cables entering the Faraday cage from outside, would probably thwart any such attempts at tracking. The sweep-generator technique mentioned above would provide additional insurance. But now we're very far into tin-foil-hat territory.

Comment: Re:Not a big surprise (Score 3, Informative) 361

But the government is intercepting data primarily from open protocols to do the spying. I don't think that closed source had anything to do with that.

That's only because they picked the low-hanging fruit first, and long-ago compromised closed-source with the sometimes-eager help of the companies who sell it.

Comment: Re:Efficiency (Score 1) 133

The point is, those solar lights at the dollar store? Yea... Make millions of them, throw them out in the desert, viola, carbon sink. You need to do something more with it beyond the acid, but this is the sort of idea we need to reduce already emitted CO2 after we've stopped creating all the extra.

And how much greenhouse gas are you going to add to the atmosphere when you make 'millions' of those 'solar lights'? That manufacturing process had better have a very small carbon footprint if you're going to come out ahead with only a 2% conversion efficiency...

Comment: Re:They know the "Internet of Things" is a failure (Score 1) 136

by jenningsthecat (#47373791) Attached to: Microsoft Backs Open Source For the Internet of Things

The "Internet of Things" offers very few tangible benefits. Normal people just don't care if they can control their toaster using their smartphone. Most people aren't going to waste money on automatic curtains that they can control from their fridge, either.

This attitude reminds me of how I felt when cell phones started incorporating cameras. I didn't want one, thought it was a stupid idea, and couldn't see how the idea would ever take off. Now I use mine all the time. It was a similar story with 'the cloud', except I saw the attraction and the utility - I just don't like giving up that much control over my data.

The point is that new technologies, (and new uses for/integrations of them), have a way of becoming wildly popular and successful, even when their usefulness or appeal isn't immediately evident to most of us. Smart companies realize that and gamble on new tech and new uses for existing tech; these gambles often pay off big time.

I'm still not happy with MS getting into bed with Open Source though. My first thought was best expressed by an earlier commenter talking about 'embrace, extend, eliminate'. My second thought is 'who's fucking whom here', and I'm afraid I already know the answer.

Comment: Re:What's the point? (Score 4, Informative) 178

And who says they build their binaries from those sources? The backdoors are probably kept in a separate branch and merged with the release branch at build time...

This, exactly. Now if Microsoft allowed governments to build their own binaries from the source they had just finished reviewing, there might be some reassurance that this isn't just a smoke-and-mirrors act. Then again, the toolchain might be compromised. Somehow I don't think MS will allow governments to have access to the toolchain sources as well. And even if they did, I suspect most governments don't have the resources to conduct such a comprehensive review.

Comment: Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (Score 1) 196

by jenningsthecat (#47349767) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

It really annoys me that these things are made this way. It's not even cost-cutting, because the faults were not due to reducing costs of materials or construction, it was designed that way. In other words designed to fail. And the problem is people are now brainwashed into believing that five years lifespan for goods like this is OK, even 'doing well'. It's NOT! These things should last 20 years or more.

It's worse than annoying. I'm not exaggerating when I say this kind of thing should be treated as a crime against humanity. The cost of the resulting resource depletion and environmental damage that we're passing on to future generations may well mean the difference between our survival as a species and our extinction, or at least our decimation. And it's not as though the things we're producing as throwaway items are even essential; in many cases they actually reduce our quality of life, (although they raise our 'standard of living', which is a metric we ought to abolish).

Don't get me wrong - I love tech toys and modern conveniences, and the technology and manufacturing sectors have much to be proud of in the area of making human lives better and more fulfilling. But we really need to band together as a species, separate the good from the bad, and stop committing slow suicide.

Comment: Re:how about we stick to making the basics better (Score 4, Funny) 196

by jenningsthecat (#47343089) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

instead of adding a bunch of features I don't need, didn't ask for, and make the product more complex, expensive, and likely to fail?

My good sir, how dare you besmirch the efforts of those who are trying to make our economy grow ever larger and ever faster? Don't you WANT a booming business environment? Is buying overpriced junk that fails early and often, and leaves our planet an empty husk, REALLY too high a price to pay for petty amusements and diversions that further line the pockets of the already-wealthy? How selfish of you!

Comment: I'm not a gamer (Score 3) 100

by jenningsthecat (#47319215) Attached to: Building the Infinite Digital Universe of <em>No Man's Sky</em>

...and I'm generally not interested in games. But this could turn me into a convert - the concept seems really awesome, and the sample video looked very cool.

Just now I've slipped off my armour of techno-jadedness, and I'm amazed at the wonders we humans are capable of creating when we're not busy engaging in pillaging, war, and petty bickering. Off-topic perhaps, but what the hell.

10 to the 6th power Bicycles = 2 megacycles