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Comment: There's already a Tesla museum, in Belgrade. (Score 4, Informative) 37

by Animats (#47428151) Attached to: The Oatmeal Convinces Elon Musk To Donate $1 Million To Tesla Museum

The Tesla Museum already exists.

Tesla did great work with AC generators and motors. Most common AC motors today still use approaches he invented. That's his legacy.

Wardenclyffe, though, is a monument to failure. From his patents, you can read how he thought it would work. He thought the ionosphere was a conductive layer. The Wardenclyffe tower was supposed to punch power through the atmosphere to that conductive layer, so that signals and maybe power could be received elsewhere.

The ionosphere does not work that way. Tesla's tower would have done nothing useful, although with 200KW at 20KHz going in, it probably could have lit up fluorescent lamps and gas tubes for some distance around. Since the location is now surrounded by a housing subdivision, rebuilding the tower and powering it up would annoy the neighbors.

Comment: Self-reported data will never work. (Score 1) 99

by Animats (#47427143) Attached to: How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business

See my 2010 paper "'Places' spam - the new front in the spam wars." As I wrote back then, "The two phases of spamming Google Places are the insertion of fake business locations and the creation of fake reviews. Both are embarrassingly easy." That hasn't changed.

Google doesn't fix this 4-year-old problem because Google makes money from bad search results. If search results take you directly to the business selling whatever it is you want, Google makes no money. If you're detoured through some Demand Media content farm, Google makes ad revenue. If you get fed up with being sent to ad-choked sites and click on a Google ad, Google makes money. Organic search that sucks is a fundamental part of Google's business model.

Technically, it's straightforward to fix this. Business data has to be checked against sources businesses can't easily manipulate, such as business credit rating companies. A business that reports fake store locations to Dun & Bradstreet or Experian will soon have a very low credit rating.

Bing or Yahoo could beat Google at search quality. They have the same spam problem, but it doesn't make them money. That's because Google has most of the third-party advertising market. Web spam on Bing drives traffic mostly to sites with Google ads, not Bing ads.

The real search engines are Google, Bing, Baidu (China) and Yandex (Russia). Everybody else, including Yahoo, is a reseller. Yandex has been doing some interesting stuff lately with linkless search ranking, and Baidu just opened a Silicon Valley office.

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer announced last January that Yahoo was getting back into search. (They've been reselling Bing since 2009.) That appears to have been a bluff to get a better deal from Microsoft. There's no indication of Yahoo actually building a search engine. No relevant job ads, no data center buildout, no increased crawling by Yahoo bots, no high-profile hires, no buzz in Silicon Valley.

Bing ought to be doing better than it is, but they're reported to have management problems. Every year, there's new top management at Bing, and it doesn't help.

Comment: Jurisdiction (Score 3, Informative) 204

I'm listening to the recording of the radio communications. The drone was over 2000' altitude. At first, the cops in the helicopter aren't sure what they're seeing, and they first think it's a fast-moving aircraft in a vertical climb, over the East River. It has red and green lights, like aircraft do. They ask La Guardia ATC radar what they're seeing. ATC isn't seeing it on radar. Then they get closer and see it's a drone of some kind. In a few minutes it's over the George Washington Bridge, miles from the East River.

Once the guys who were operating them were caught, the cops are on the air discussing what to charge them with. The cops on the ground call them "tiny little toys". There's some discussion of "if it's over 1000', it's reckless". The cops aren't quite sure what to charge them with.

The FAA can certainly have them prosecuted. They were operating a drone in class B controlled airspace. That's serious, and dumb. Here's the New York City airspace chart. (Yes, there's actually a VFR corridor over the Hudson River; it's permitted to fly along the river at up to 1300' altitude. There used to be one over the East River, too, but after some jock slammed a light plane into a Manhattan apartment building by going too fast there, it was closed to VFR traffic. These drone operators didn't stay in the VFR corridor, and probably had no clue where it was anyway.)

The drone guys were lucky. LGA has two intersecting runways, 4-22 and 13-31. The one in use depends on wind direction. The approach to 13 and the departure from 31 are over where the drones were operating. LGA happened to be using 4-22 that day. If the other runway had been in use, there would have been a large plane in the area ever 45 seconds or so.

Google

How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business 99

Posted by timothy
from the you-aren't-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Wired about the one big problem that comes with crowdsourced data: enough eyeballs may make all bugs shallow, but may not fare as well against malice and greed: Maps are dotted with thousands of spam business listings for nonexistent locksmiths and plumbers. Legitimate businesses sometimes see their listings hijacked by competitors or cloned into a duplicate with a different phone number or website. In January, someone bulk-modified the Google Maps presence of thousands of hotels around the country, changing the website URLs to a commercial third-party booking site ... Small businesses are the usual targets. ....These attacks happen because Google Maps is, at its heart, a massive crowdsourcing project, a shared conception of the world that skilled practitioners can bend and reshape in small ways using tools like Google's Mapmaker or Google Places for Business. ... In February, an SEO consultant-turned-whistleblower named Bryan Seely demonstrated the risk dramatically when he set up doppelganger Google Maps listings for the offices of the FBI and Secret Service..

Comment: Re:Is it too much to ask... (Score 1) 135

Is is too much to ask that we could have some comments from posters who are interested in, you know, math and science?

I'm sure many of us are interested, but seriously out of our depth on the topic -- I don't even know what stupid questions to ask first without sounding even more stupid. :-P

I have no idea of what this actually means in terms of anything practical.

Here I was getting ready to dredge up all that symmetry and topology that got drilled in to me in grad school.

By all means, bust it out .. because the whinging about "soccer v football" are kind of boring, and I'd love to know what this actually implies to chemists. But since the extent of my chemistry background is from Grade 11, and since that was a very long time ago, this is a little out of my grasp.

Comment: Re:Tannenbaum's predictions... (Score 1) 118

by TheRaven64 (#47425531) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University
Predicting that x86 would go away was more wishful thinking than anything else. At the time, Intel had just switched from pushing the i960 to pushing the i860 and would later push Itanium as x86 replacements (their first attempt at producing a CPU that it was impossible to efficiently compile code for, the iAPX432, had already died). Given that Intel was on its second attempt to kill x86 (the 432 largely predated anyone caring seriously about x86), it wasn't hard to imagine that it would go away soon...

Comment: Re:And another question (Score 1) 135

Jesus fuck. That's your go-to amazing moment for soccer? Don't waste your time watching the video, kids. The dude kicks the ball from a moderate distance at moderate speed and it goes into the net.

On behalf of those of us who didn't do so well in gym class ... that would be somewhat amazing. Even if the net was empty. ;-)

Comment: And that means? (Score 1) 135

But here's question that has been puzzling chemists, topologists and..errr...soccer fans: is there a molecular analogue of the Brazuca?

OK ... so mathematicians proved you could have molecules with a symmetry similar to a new fangled soccer ball.

Is this good? Is it not good? Is it useful in any way? Or it this purely an intellectual exercise?

I'm afraid I don't grok chemistry with fullness, so I don't know if different symmetries give us different materials, or prettier chemicals.

I know shape usually defines the other kinds of bonds it can make, but I have no idea if this specific thing is of any benefit to anybody.

Can anybody give a lay summary for what the practical applications of this tidbit of knowledge actually are? Because I've got nothing solid here.

Comment: Re:A great writer (Score 2) 118

by TheRaven64 (#47425431) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University
I found Modern Operating Systems better than the Minix book. The Minix book tells you exactly how a toy OS works in detail. Kirk McKusick's Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD OS (new version due out in a month or two) tells you how a real modern OS works in detail. Modern Operating Systems gives you a high-level overview of how modern operating systems work and how they should work. If you want to learn about operating systems, I'd recommend reading the FreeBSD D&I book and Tanenbaum's Modern Operating Systems and skipping the Minix book (which was also a bit too heavy on code listings for my tastes).

Comment: Re:So SSL is nothing more than an honor system? (Score 1) 100

by gstoddart (#47425413) Attached to: India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates

Uh, some of the earliest encryption algorithms ever created are immune to MITM.

Yes, and they were built for communications between two parties, who knew they'd be communicating, and could exchange keys in advance.

Now, tell me one which is applicable to the problem of a large number of potential users, all unknown up front, and coming from random devices.

The problem with modern public key encryption (and its strength as well) is that you don't need to pre-exchange keys. But this opens you up to MITM attacks.

Key exchange is hard. Managing all of those keys is really hard. You think a bank can maintain a list (and keep it secure) of the private keys of every individual customer?

The thing which holds the keys (and every vendor you deal with would have a separate copy) then becomes the next attack vector.

I think the generalized problem of establishing, trust, and a secure exchange of keys, is far harder and more complex in a world where you deal with lots of entities, who deal with lots of entities. This isn't things your average person are going to be willing to spend hours doing.

Comment: Re:Does this mean the death of Minix3? (Score 1) 118

by TheRaven64 (#47425395) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University

I feel it necessary to point out, though, that OS X is not a microkernel system comparable to Minix

While this is true, it's worth noting that a lot of the compartmentalisation and sandboxing ideas that most of the userland programs on OS X employ (either directly or via standard APIs) have roots in microkernel research. OS X is in the somewhat odd situation of having userspace processes that are a lot more like multiserver microkernels than its kernel...

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