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Comment: Re:Air bags (Score 1) 139

by plover (#48271391) Attached to: New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight

I also thought it sounded like a good thing. When safety components have to structurally withstand higher impact loads, that really means they cover a wider range of occupants. It doesn't mean they won't continue to test with infants and children.

Besides, they run many thousands of simulated crashes before they expend real dollars on actual crash tests. The dummy is nowadays just the "proof" test.

Comment: Re:Every time I hear the word "cloud" my brain hur (Score 4, Funny) 45

by plover (#48267249) Attached to: Technology Group Promises Scientists Their Own Clouds

To be fair, there is room for distinctions inside the cloud metaphor. Regular cloud services will now be called the "cumulus" cloud, and the Internet2 service is the "cirrostratus" cloud, because it has faster winds.

So you're saying that cloud metaphors blow? I concur.

Comment: Re:Farm topography (Score 1) 94

by plover (#48262325) Attached to: Drones Could 3D-Map Scores of Hectares of Land In Just a Few Hours

The problem is that slope required for adequate drainage can be a very gradual change in the elevation of the ground, but the drone is not in contact with the ground. GPS located photos are great for locating lat/lon of visible items, but getting the precise elevation would probably require surveyed reference points and the full 3D treatment.

Comment: Re:All very sad (Score 1) 442

by plover (#48258195) Attached to: Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

this sort of thing shouldn't happen to a sufficiently well funded space agency where such catastrophic failure can't be tolerated.

"Can't be tolerated"? Spaceflight has always run on the ragged edge of engineering. Just sending an Antares booster to LEO means every unit of payload mass costs 40x its weight in fuel and booster weight, all of which is going to be consumed or destroyed during the four-minute-service-life of the machine. Do they choose expensive copper wire which weighs more than cheap aluminum wire? Do they reinforce the structure with steel, aluminum, or titanium? Where do they find extra weight to shave off? Do they leave in the quintuply redundant safety systems if it's not a manned flight? How do they balance all the physical requirements against their budgets?

They build it out of materials that meet the requirements with the tiniest possible safety margins over the service minimums, and test as best as they can that none are substandard. All it takes is one weak part out of the thousands in the ship. So you build a couple of your disposable ships, test fly a few, and watch for failing parts. But you can't afford to test a thousand rockets, so at some point you have to fly them for paying customers.

Failures have to be tolerated, or we'd never get anywhere interesting.

Comment: Re:the last line of the summary (Score 2, Interesting) 71

by plover (#48247883) Attached to: 2600 Profiled: "A Print Magazine For Hackers"

2600 has always painted hackers as martyrs. It's kind of their thing. Draper got busted, Mitnick got busted, they get harassed by Feds, therefore "we poor persecuted hackers just want freedom for all." You even see it in the 199x movie Hackers.

The magazine is still interesting as long as you overlook the crazy self-pitying editorials.

Comment: Re:The good news (Score 1) 697

by plover (#48213045) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Look at how counterfeiting laws work for money. If you pay with a $100 bill in a smokey bar at night and get a $20 counterfeit bill in change, and don't realize it until the next day, you're out the $20. If you try to spend it, you're actually committing a felony - it doesn't matter if you printed the phony bill yourself, or if you just accepted it as change and are passing it forward. It also doesn't matter if you realize it's counterfeit or not, although the Secret Service agents may agree to give you a pass the first time you try to spend phony money if you claim you didn't realize it was counterfeit, and cooperate completely.

However, currency counterfeiting laws are very specific to money. Let's look at product counterfeiting, which works similarly but probably without the felony charges.

If FTDI discovered a container of devices with counterfeit chips was en route, they could tell Customs, who would order the contents of the container to be destroyed once they arrived on the dock. This would be a problem for the shipping company, who accepted the devices for shipment and never delivered them, so they would have to pay out an insurance claim. The insurer then has to deal with the liability by going back to the shipper and saying "hey, your devices were destroyed by Customs, I had to pay out for failing to deliver the goods." I expect the shipping companies deal with this all the time, though, and have a contract clause that absolves them of insurance liability in this case. In this case, the supplier is out the money. Their recourse would be to go back to the manufacturer and ask for their money back. Maybe the manufacturer will honor the request, maybe they won't.

If FTDI discovered a shipment of devices with counterfeit chips already went to MicroCenter, they would call the Secret Service, who would contact MicroCenter and MicroCenter would have to pull them off the shelves and destroy them, leaving MicroCenter without the money. Their only recourse would be to contact their supplier and say "hey, you sold us counterfeit goods, we want our money back." Maybe they'd get their money back, maybe they wouldn't. It's a risk.

So FTDI has now found a way to destroy a consumer device. As above, the consumer is similarly out of luck. Their recourse is to go back to MicroCenter and say "hey, this adapter, it's broke." Maybe they'll get their money back, maybe they won't. It's a risk. MicroCenter might eat the losses, or they might go back to their supplier, who might go back to the manufacturer.

In every case when the counterfeits are discovered they are destroyed, leaving somebody without the device and without the money.

I think FTDI may have a pretty solid legal ground for behaving like this, even though it's always a crappy experience to the person who got stuck with the phony. The main difference is that FTDI is doing this without asking the Secret Service to investigate the counterfeits first.

Comment: Re:If you can't do, sue! (Score 1) 123

by plover (#48209519) Attached to: Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit

Nope. Legal protections for intellectual property include patents, trademarks, and copyright. However, all these have limited lifetimes. Having a trade secret means you forgo any legal protection, and you take on defending your secret through your own security systems. That means you can retain a trade secret for as long as you can keep it secret, but once the genie's out of the bottle, too bad. The courts can't help you directly, but you could sue a disgruntled employee if he published the 11 secret herbs and spices in breach of his employment contract.

Comment: Re:If you can't do, sue! (Score 1) 123

by plover (#48209443) Attached to: Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit

On the one hand, there is the philosophy that "locks only keep honest people out." If someone is using a hack to bypass their door security, the current legal framework could be used to charge them with trespassing, breaking and entering, illegal use of lock-picking equipment, possession of burglary tools, or some other charge. If a prosecutor wants to file charges against you for using such a device, he will. To that end, HID may feel they have to try to defend their system through the legal system, or the courts may not take their products seriously as a security system.

On the other hand, anyone who has such a system protecting their buildings and grounds is now at Pucker-Factor One. These SLAPP lawsuits are just confirmation that HID acknowledges the threat to their systems is real, and the attack code is already in the hands of vandals and bad guys. If building security was my job I'd be on the phone to HID today, and googling the competition while their account manager lied in my ear about how it's not a crisis.

Comment: Re:Oh, another one (Score 1) 123

by plover (#48209355) Attached to: Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit

You have just described the crime of barratry, or of a SLAPP. Neither will get you disbarred.

Remember, the bar is populated by other lawyers, and they like to practice freely. They're won't disbar someone for defending their client through vigorous means - to defend someone in any other way would be unethical to their client. A SLAPP has to be really, really egregious before it sinks to that level.

Comment: Re:Boil it down to cost (Score 2) 104

by plover (#48200901) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Event Sign-Up Software Options For a Non-Profit?

You have essentially lead them into making the decision that you want them to make.

I agree with everything except your conclusion. It's not a contest, with a winner and loser. Everyone at the table needs to be trying to serve the users and business interests. Once the goals and requirements come out, it may turn out his initial decision was not the best. It's about cooperating to deliver the best fit solution that meets everyone's requirements to the maximum extent practical.

To that degree, it often helps not to look at it as a process of compromise; it's better to think that you're all agreeing to deliver the most important stuff.

Comment: Boil it down to cost (Score 5, Insightful) 104

by plover (#48197639) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Event Sign-Up Software Options For a Non-Profit?

A couple of years ago, I was asked to be the registration chair for a national event, which we successfully held this spring. All previous events had been run strictly on paper-and-pencil mail-in forms, but that involves a lot of manual work, including a lot of last minute work at the event door. I looked long and hard at various open source and commercial event management offerings, and I spoke to other people who ran similar events. Based on recommendations from other event organizers, I landed on regonline as a good blend of features and customizability, even though it was a bit expensive (though they offer a discount for a 501(c)(3) organization.) What it came down to for me was effort. I wouldn't have time to set up all the hosting needed, to install and configure the software, or to integrate with a payment gateway, and I got a lot of really valuable features from their system. I didn't want us to make our attendees suffer through hour-long lines at a registration booth. And I was able to provide instant reports to the conference chair, who used them to help run the event smoothly.

Something it sounds like you need to do here is figure out "who is the Registration Chair"? If it's you, your only question to the Event Chair should be "what is my budget?" Base your solution on the bottom line. If your budget is $5/registrant, and it includes lanyards and ID cards, your options are wide open. If your budget is $0.50/registrant, and you have to use a box of old "Hello my name is..." stickers, your options are a bit more limited. The important thing is: the Registration Chair is in charge of registration. He or she decides how to best solve the problem, not "here are some random developers, you must write us a site."

One thing that still isn't clear is why you would have to "write" a new site. It sounds like you created one a few years ago, and then another, and then another. I realize your group is a precious snowflake, completely unique in the world, but events really are just events. They all have web sites, registrants, admins, venues, agenda items, merchandise, travel, lodging, taxes, payments, receipts, badges, volunteers, and reports. And there is nothing in that list you can't get from the marketplace. Ultimately, if you absolutely can't use a packaged solution because of [illogical rationale], you should only need to have someone reconfigure the existing site. That's a lot less effort, perhaps not much more than c/2014/2015/g

Finally, if you're taking payments on line, you're going to run into extra effort and risk to interface with them. No matter what, you really, really don't want to be responsible for someone else's credit cards. Not these days. The risk is more than you can imagine. If that's something you can foist off on a third party, you'll keep a ton of liability out of your organization.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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