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Comment: Re: stop the pseudo-scientific bullshit (Score 1) 88

by jd (#49156217) Attached to: Mysterious Siberian Crater Is Just One of Many

The Great Extinction, caused by Siberia becoming one gigantic lava bed (probably after an asteroid strike), was a bit further back in time. Geologically, Siberia is old. You might be confusing the vestiges of Ice Age dessication (which was 10,000 years ago) but which involves the organics on the surface with the geology (aka rocks).

Regardless, though, of how the craters are forming, the fact remains that an awful lot of greenhouse gas is being pumped into the air, an awful lot of information on early civilization is being blasted out of existence, and a lot of locals are finding that the land has suddenly become deadly.

Comment: Re: Authority (Score 2, Interesting) 234

by jd (#49156167) Attached to: As Big As Net Neutrality? FCC Kills State-Imposed Internet Monopolies

That is a good question. The last time the courts ruled on this, the ruling was that the FCC had ceded power and couldn't claim it back without the will of god. Or Congress, or something.

Personally, I'm all in favour of Thor turning up to the Supreme Court, but he probably wouldn't be allowed in on account of not having a visa.

Comment: Yes and no (Score 1) 309

by jd (#49129871) Attached to: Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course

First, the complexity of the engine shouldn't matter. You will never get the bulk of users out there to use, or care about, the real power of the engine. They don't want to mess with the engine. The engine should be under the hood, in a black box, whatever engineering metaphor you want. Users just want things that work.

I remember way back when I was at university. There were various absolute rules for good software engineering. The first was that the user should be presented with a must-read manual no longer than one paragraph. Tips and tricks could be more extensive, but that one paragraph was all you needed.

The second was that the user absolutely must not care about how something was implemented. In the case of encryption, I take that to mean, in the case of e-mail, that the engine should not be visible outside of configuration. A supplied key should trigger any behind-the-scenes compatibility mode or necessary configuration to talk to that user. If the keys the user has aren't suitable to correspond with that person, the system should ask if one is needed and tie it to that protocol.

There should be no extra controls in e-mail, except at an advanced user level. If a key exists to correspond with a user, it should be used. If a key exists for inbound e-mail, the key should be applied. The process should be transparent, beyond getting passwords.

Any indexes (particularly if full indexes) should be as secure as the message, good security practices on both will take care of any issues.

Ideally, you want to have the same grades of authentication as for the early certification system, adapted to embed the idea that different people in the web of trust will have done different levels of validation and will be trusted to different degrees. The user should see, but not have to deal with, the level of trust.

Last, GnuPG is probably not the system I'd use. Compatibility cruft needs to be as an optional layer and I'm not confident in implementation.

There should be eight main libraries - public key methods, secret key methods, encryption modes, hashes (which encryption modes will obviously pull from), high level protocols, key store, index store and lacing store. (Lacing is how these are threaded together.) The APIs and ABIs to those libraries should be standardized, so that patching is minimally intrusive and you can exploit the Bazaar approach to get the best mix-n-match.

There should also be a trusted source in the community who can evaluate the code against the various secure and robust programming standards, any utilized theorum provers and the accepted best practices in cryptography. Essentially replicate the sort of work NIST does, but keeping it open and keeping it free of conflict of NSA interest.

Comment: Translation (Score 2) 449

by jd (#49084893) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

US businesses are as incompetent and insecure as Sony, but can be provoked into taking absolutely minimal action when their profits are under direct threat by sufficiently powerful financial organizations. You mean nothing, you never have, you never will. You have no say, you have no power, you have no rights, you cannot walk away. You aren't the customer, merely the product. Easily replaced if damaged.

You aren't getting security because security matters. You aren't getting security because you matter. You're getting it because two vendors and a trading bloc said so.

Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909771) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Solar sail can achieve 25% light speed, according to NASA, and Alpha Centauri is 4 light years away.

You want a manned mission (with robots doing all the actual work) to determine if the conventional wisdom that a manned mission to the outer planets is physically impossible is correct. Even if the pilot dies, you learn the furthest a manned mission can reach. There's seven billion people, you can afford to expend one or two. Ideally, they'd be volunteers and there'll be no shortage of them, but if you're concerned about valuable life, send members of the Tea Party.

Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909107) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

No big surprise. The military are willing to invest what it takes for what they need. Military entities are, by necessity, pitifully naive when it comes to anything useful, but once they specify what they think they want, they don't shirk at the cost, they get the job done. A pointless job, perhaps, but nonetheless a completed job.

The corporate sector wants money. Things don't ever have to get done, the interest on monies paid is good enough and there hasn't been meaningful competition in living memory. Because one size never fits all, it's not clear competition is even what you want. Economic theory says it isn't.

The only other sector, as I have said many times before, that is remotely in the space race is the hobbyist/open source community. In other words, the background behind virtually all the X-Prize contestants, the background behind the modern waverider era, the background that the next generation of space enthusiasts will come from (Kerbel Space Program and Elite: Dangerous will have a similar effect on the next generation of scientists and engineers as Star Trek the old series and Doctor Who did in the 1960s, except this time it's hands-on).

I never thought the private sector would do bugger all, it's not in their blood. They're incapable of innovation on this kind of scale. It's not clear they're capable of innovation at all, all the major progress is bought or stolen from researchers and inventors.

No, with civilian government essentially walking away, there's only two players in the field and whilst the hobbyists might be able to crowdsource a launch technology, it'll be a long time before they get to space themselves. The military won't get there at all, nobody to fight, so the hobbyists will still be first with manned space missions, but it's going to take 40-50 years at best.

We have the technology today to get a manned mission to Alpha Centauri and back. It would take 15-20 years for the journey and the probability of survival is poor, but we could do it. By my calculations, it would take 12 years to build the components and assemble them in space. Only a little longer than it took for America to get the means to go to the moon and back. We could actually have hand-held camera photos taken in another solar system and chunks of rocky debris from the asteroid belt there back on Earth before Mars One launches its first rocket AND before crowdfunded space missions break the atmosphere.

All it takes is putting personal egos and right wing politics on the shelf, locking the cupboard and then lowering it into an abandoned mineshaft, which should then be sealed with concrete.

Comment: Re:Action vs. inaction (Score 1) 307

by fgodfrey (#48878421) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

I have a choice of which computer and handset I choose to buy and (on the computer) what OS to run. I have two choices in ISP's, or I can move where I *might* have two different choices in ISP's (or not). Moving is a pretty high bar to clear. Buying another handset or changing OS's (or even buying a second handset or computer) because whatever application I want isn't available on the platform I have is a much lower bar.

The problem is that we have chosen to not allow everyone and their brother to dig up the street to lay new cable or string new cable on overhead wires. There are good reasons for that. That, however, means that the so called "last mile" delivery, at least to residential areas, is always going to be a place where competition is artificially limited. So, at that point, you either take the cable-TV route and just let the monopoly abuse its customer base with no innovation for *years* or you need some government regulation to get more competition. Neutrality is one form of that regulation. Personally, I think that without it, the Internet as we know it will cease to exist and turn, instead, into content channels that are available like cable-TV channels on whatever ISP you happen to be attached to. That will severely restrict new websites from being created. Maybe that view is too pessimistic. Another option (or an additional option on top of neutrality) is to have the public "own" (or at least have a strong interest in the operation of) the last-mile network, kind of like the public owns the roads, and force the actual owner of the cable to allow multiple ISPs to exist on the cable (that could also take the form of prohibiting a single company from operating both a last-mile infrastructure and offering public Internet access, or several other similar forms, or it could just mandate that the lines must be leased to anyone who can pay to play).

I'd love to hear another set of options that can be plausibly implemented that would encourage competition in content creation and content delivery that doesn't a) require government regulation (remember, prohibiting exclusive contracts for last-mile service is, itself, a government regulation against an otherwise legal contract) and b) doesn't involve an unwieldy tangle of wires above and/or below every street.

Comment: Re:Time for a UNION! (Score 5, Insightful) 271

by metlin (#48868295) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

Although this problem needs a solution, a union is not that solution. Unions are a relic of a bygone era. The core premise of a union is that employes are all the same and can be swapped in and out of work like parts in a machine (once they are trained). This leads to collective bargaining which takes back some of the power that big employers have. However it also removes individuality from the worker. If I am smarter, stronger, or more skilled than my coworkers, I want to be able to elevate myself based on my merits. A union interferes with that. You pay a union, and the union acts only in its own best interest, not in your individual best interest.

That's an incredibly selfish attitude that puts the individual interest above the interest of the collective. The irony is that collective bargaining is much more effective and is much stronger in the long run. Your self interest is great until such time that you reach a point when other, more skilled people take your place (which is inevitable, because our cognitive capabilities decline with age, not to mention that older people have more responsibilities and find it hard to work 80 hour weeks).

Even the most meritocratic of individuals can run into unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (e.g., an accident that has you laid up, or family issues). I worked in a strictly up or out management consulting firm, and about a year ago, my pregnant wife had some issues. My son was born, prematurely, and I was in a rough place with my personal needs and professional responsibilities. My wife was hospitalized and my son was in the NICU, unable to breathe, and I was the only one who could take care of things. My employer was understanding -- for about 6 weeks -- after which things got rather unpleasant. So, I quit and joined another firm that is not only more prestigious but was also more understanding and accommodating of my needs. But I was fortunate -- I could very well have been unable to find a job, and been unemployed for a year because I wanted to take care of my family.

Union agreements ensure that in such cases, collective bargaining agreements protect everyone.

Modern skilled workers, especially in the IT and Engineering fields, are usually very specialized. This is not a good fit for a union. It would be ill advised to take a good thing and remove all motivation for creativity and the free flow of invigorating talent.

Not really. Most of what goes on in IT today is quite commoditized, and there are very few areas that are truly specialized. And it is only going to get worse as IT matures. You may think your task is highly specialized, but the truth is, there's probably someone in another part of the world willing to do it for a tenth of what you get paid. That is not specialization.

If you want real specialization, you perhaps see it in chip design, algorithmic optimization, biotech etc. You know, all those guys with PhDs who specialize in a subject?

A better solution is to simply prevent large corporations from getting away with their bullshit. No "gentleman's agreements" to prevent poaching. Stop accepting lies regarding layoffs and market performance. Reward employers for using home-grown talent rather than rewarding them with tax loopholes for moving overseas.

And how do you propose we do that? The share market is the ultimate arbiter, and the people who are rewarding the companies and the executives are the shareholders who are in for short term profit (it's the extension of the same short term myopic outlook of looking out for oneself rather than the collective).

I find that most Americans have a poor understanding of unions almost entirely rooted in propaganda, and it gets repeated again and again as gospel. The truth is, unions are immensely helpful to the labor force, especially in a service economy such as ours. Everyone thinks their skill is specialized, until it gets outsourced and commoditized.

You are not special. And despite what you may think, unions can help you negotiate agreements that would be impossible for you to go at alone.

Comment: Re:parachute (Score 2) 248

by fgodfrey (#48835619) Attached to: SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released

One of the biggest reasons is that, in the location this is happening, parachutes means "lands in the ocean" which implies that your rocket is going to get bathed in salt water, probably engines first. I'm sure you could design some sort of a deployable cover to cover the engines (although they're have to be vented of fuel and cooled first) that would prevent salt water from entering, but I doubt that would be less complex than this scheme and it would almost certainly be heavier.

Finally, remember that one of Elon Musk's long term goals is to land on Mars (whether he will actually achieve that, I have no idea, but he's heading in the right direction) and for that, parachutes won't work. So, this whole thing is really an R&D program. Even if they "only" recover 50% of the spent stages, that's a lot of "cost of goods sold" to cut out.....

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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