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Comment: Re:What took them so long? (Score 1) 144

by hey! (#48646633) Attached to: Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

You can turn that question around. Given the manifest possibility of such a act, why haven't more organizations taken steps to prevent them?

We keep hearing from the companies attacked and the press that these attacks are "sophisticated", but this attack started with a simple spear phishing attack. People use "sophisticated" to mean "more trouble than we were prepared for."

Comparisons to Stuxnet seem overblown and (in some cases) self-serving. Stuxnet was designed to undermine systems the perpetrator had no access to; it would work even if the administrators of the target system successfully locked the attacker out. In this case the administrator failed to secure the network from the attacker.

Not every persistent threat is an advanced one.

Comment: Re:Things happen - multiple things (Score 2) 60

by hey! (#48642965) Attached to: Massive Volcanic Eruptions Accompanied Dinosaur Extinction

Back in the early 90s I had the opportunity of participating on a paleontological expedition to the badlands of Montana. The soil was built up over hundreds of millions of years and flooding cut through the soft soil leaving a stratigraphy that is dramatic and easy to read. You can even see the Chicxulub ejecta, a chocolate brown horizontal line about the width of your hand.

Now whole dinosaur skeletons are a rare find. You can spend a whole season tramping through the badlands and never find two bones that go together. But individual bones are more common, and bone fragments are more common still, and experts can often identify the group of dinosaurs or even the species of dinosaur a bone fragment came from, often a surprisingly small fragment of bone.

What we were doing was assembling a database of species found by layer, which in turn maps to era. What the PI was finding was a shift towards species with anatomical adaptations to deal with heat. His opinion was that there was already a climate driven adaptive stress on the dinosaur population, which turned the aftermath of the Chicxulub impact into a knock-out blow.

So the idea that there was more going on than an asteroid impact is hardly new. People were thinking that way twenty years ago.

Comment: Re:False Falg? (Score 3, Insightful) 215

by hey! (#48642825) Attached to: North Korea Denies Responsibility for Sony Attack, Warns Against Retaliation

One thing every thoughtful fan of the mystery story knows is that in real life, motivation tells you very little about who done what. That's because *most* people, when faced with a problem, don't even consider murder. Murderers are not typical people.

The same goes for hackers. When companies first started putting Internet connections back in the 90s in I would explain that they need to start taking steps to secure their networks, and almost without exception the response was "Why? Why would anyone be interested in hacking *us*?" And I had to explain that the Internet was accessible to *everyone*, including people whose motivations and ways of thinking would make no sense to them.

Motivation may have limited use in perhaps identifying some possible suspects, but it's not probative of anything. You can't rule anyone out or in based on what you think their motivations are or should be. The only way to know that somebody has done something is by following the chain of evidence that leads to some concrete action they've taken.

Comment: Re:While great for the dog (Score 3, Insightful) 24

by hey! (#48641815) Attached to: How a 3D Printer Let a Dog Run For the First Time

Well, there's two reasons why 3D printing makes sense. One is prototyping. You might need to make a half dozen different prototypes that are pretty similar to each other before you find one that really works. The second is replacement. You may need to replace these things on a regular basis. Replacing them is just a matter of sending a file to a printer -- no craft skill needed at all.

Hand crafting something like this falls within the scope of my tinkering abilities. I've worked with fiberglass and epoxy and wood. But it's not for everyone and if someone had to *pay* me to make something like this it would probably cost a thousand dollars a pair.

Something like this would seem to fall into the sweet spot for 3D printing: something you need more than one of, but not *thousands* of identical copies.

Comment: Re:$32 million of greed. (Score 1) 166

by hey! (#48639471) Attached to: Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

I have a friend who was a medical entomologist and journal editor before he retired. I ran into him while I was browsing a book table at a conference, and mentioned that I'd like to buy one of the medical entomology textbooks but the $250 price tag was a bit steep.

"Just wait," he said. "I'm about to change that. I'm writing a new textbook that will be a lot cheaper. I want students and public health departments to be able to afford a solid medical entomology reference."

When his book came out the publisher set the priced at $500. It was twice as expensive any of its competitors. Now something like this is never going to sell like a basic calculus book, but it has a considerably larger market than you'd think. His idea was that it would find its way into the syllabus in medical, veterinary and public health schools; and that hospitals and public health agencies would buy copies for their libraries. But his strategy to make that happen by making the book affordable and sell in (relatively) high numbers; the publisher had other plans.

So don't blame authors for high textbook prices. It's publishers who set the price.

Comment: Re:Who wants a watch that you have to recharge dai (Score 2) 227

by American AC in Paris (#48628851) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch?

The entire point of having a battery in a watch is so that you don't have to worry about winding it every day,,, it's good for 3 years and then you replace the battery when it goes.

If I'm going to replace my watch, something that I've been using for years, and have only had to replace the battery twice since I got it, with something newer, then that newer thing should not create additional inconveniences that far outweigh anything it can do that a watch might not, particularly when there is nothing that it will do which a smart phone does not already do anyways.

There are a fair number of people out there who happily traded the 2-week battery life of their perfectly functional cell phones for dead-in-a-day smartphones. As it turns out, the inconvenience of having to constantly recharge a smartphone was worth putting up with in exchange for being able to do all the things you can do with a smartphone. Clearly, not everyone shared this sentiment, as you can still see any number of people using non-smartphones today--but significant numbers of people chose functionality over battery life.

It's hardly a stretch of the imagination to see the same thing happening with smart watches.

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