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Comment Re:Do you know how far bullets fly? (Score 1) 620

All of the delivery drones I've seen are based on the helicopter model, so there's no technical requirement that they descend before they get to their destination. However, flying lower nearby the destination, as you suggest, would be a more efficient path.

If someone tried to make delivery drones from a plane, which would require it to descend prior to the destination, the package would have to be dropped. That combined with decreased maneuverability would make plane-like drones a poor choice for deliveries. Those drones are better suited for photography of large areas.

Comment Re:flight data vs. eyewitness (Score 2) 620

While eyewitness testimony is questionable, people testify under oath to those statements.

Any data used by a court should be questioned just a rigorously. At a minimum, the following questions seem relevant:

1. Is the device collecting this data certified?
2. Is the flight data collected in a tamper-evident manner?
3. When and where was the device calibrated?
4. Was the flight data collected at the time of the incident or provided by the drone owner at a later date?

Without this information, the judge would likely consider the data as heresay.

If the data was uploaded in real time to the device manufacturers server and the owner of the drone has read-only access to the data, then calibration would be the only missing point. That calibration could be done at a later time to determine how accurate the data should be. e.g., my watch will give me altitude, based on air pressure, suggesting that weather can effect the margin of error on that measurement. Whether the drones altitude was appropriate depends on the reported altitude and the margin of error.

TFA says this was part of a pattern of behavior, not a single event, so the specific data points for this particular flight may not affect the judges decision.

Comment Re:Stupid people are stupid (Score 1) 956

Events like this remind me of the movie Brazil, with a hint of Idiocracy.

They will probably conclude that he failed to file the correct paperwork, send notarized copies to the school, the school district, state governor, CIA, NSA, FBI and the POTUS. He also didn't get explicit written permission from each of those entities to demonstrate his electronics project to his teacher. Children need to know there are procedures to follow, and those aren't documented anywhere or taught to them. It's clearly their fault for not knowing how things really work, especially for anyone who can be categorized in any way, such as ethnic sounding names or non-albino pigmentation.

If this kind of situation isn't dealt with harshly, you never know what the next kid will do. Today it was a harmless electronics project, tomorrow it could be a harmless electronics project powered by a potato. Combining electronics and biology is an inconceivable danger we cannot allow to happen.

In high school, I showed the teacher in charge of the computer lab how to get the admin password from the network server. I told him it could be done on the console by anyone in a few minutes and showed that it took less than 5 minutes. I also told him that removing the keyboard and monitor from the server and making it physically difficult to access would prevent others from doing the same in the future. And here, 25 years later I'm working for a large financial institution, reading stories about security and posting on Slashdot. Come on people - posting on Slashdot? Is that the kind of future we want for our children?

For those under 35, please disregard this post unless you have received special training on recognizing sarcasm and humor.

Comment Re:Get used to it, this is the future (Score 2) 279

Netflix pays royalties based on what movies get watched. The more people who watch something, the more the producer gets paid.

I'd definitely agree that a monthly entertainment expense would be popular if a similar model was used across content providers. If Amazon has content that Netflix doesn't, it would be nice to not have to pay two subscriptions to switch between them.

Likewise, if both have the same content but one has a better content delivery, the one that serves the customers best should get paid more. Screw Netflix's bad download rates that can be gotten around by stopping and restarting the video from a different server. That shows that their infrastructure, not my connection is the limiting factor.

Same thing could apply to free services like youtube. Skip the lame commercials and take a slice of that $50/month pie for those who produce good content. I don't think most people are against paying for something they like, but when it's a lot more work for the user, it's not going to happen.

Of course, the problem is that companies that provide content want the fixed monthly fee so they have a budget to work from. It's a lot harder to run a business if you don't know how much you can invest in infrastructure, content, etc. Companies like Netflix and Amazon would have to work together and pool resources to make it mutually beneficial. Oh wait, Netflix runs on Amazon Web Services already.

Subscriptions for services make sense and most people are used to these. Subscriptions for physical objects like phones just seems like a way to feed junkie consumerism. While addiction is a great thing for the bottom line, I think there's an adverse affects on the way people act in many other parts of their lives.

I like that when something is paid off, the Total Cost of Ownership keeps going down. Many things in life benefit from the not-disposable mentality. I take care of my phones and they last a long time and stay in good condition. This is just a matter of common sense to me, even though my employer pays for my phone entirely, so I don't actually save a penny on not smashing it every time a new one comes out. Other people seem to have 'accidents' within weeks of new phone releases, but that usually appears to be part of a larger pattern of poor decisions.

Comment Re: Wow ... (Score 3, Interesting) 220

Airsoft pistols are not legally classified as firearms. I would recommend against declaring one and hoping to explain how you're scamming the system if your bag ever disappears. Why give someone (who is probably already annoyed to be dealing with a lost luggage report) a reason to figure out whether or not it's illegal to declare a non-firearm as a firearm?

There are plenty of options, for anyone who isn't a felon. Blank guns and black powder pistols are available via mail order with no additional paperwork. For anyone who is not adverse to filling out a 4473, there are many options in the ~$100 range, and many worth actually having and using for ~$300. Think of the cost as a one time investment in baggage insurance.

Every time I've flown with a firearm, it only takes me a few extra minutes to check my bag with one of the ticketing agents, fill out the declaration card, and have my bag x-rayed. Even flying out of California, I've never run into an airline employee that wasn't familiar with the process for checking firearms. East coast could be different, I've never flown there.

Comment Re:A fatal flaw (Score 2) 95

Indeed, more information *can* yield a clearer picture of the event, situation, etc.

However, more data also simplifies the job of cherry picking data points to prove some totally random theory.

Hope drives the former, while laziness drives the latter.

Anything you say can *and* will be used against you in a court of law (except in cases where you're exempt from the extra paperwork of courts). That takes on a more ominous tone when you can't control the massive volume of data being collected and generated about everything you ever do.

Comment Re:GTFO! (Score 1) 480

I suspect the better people quit because mediocrity was being rewarded, which means the workload on people who don't do a crap job becomes impossible.

Of course, the longer term issue is also that the company is going to collapse and those who see it coming will jump ship before the whole company collapses and there are that many other people looking for jobs. "Company went out of business and I didn't see it coming" isn't a great response to "why did you leave your last job?"

Comment Re:Perfect summary of Perl from Larry himself (Score 2) 133

It really comes down to the developers mindset.

If you're writing something obfuscated to show how clever you are, it shows that you don't work in teams. I know perfectly intelligent people who like Perl 1-liners, but don't realize that the compactness means other people can't use or build on that work. Whenever I wanted to use one of those 1-liners, I always spent the first 20 minutes translating it into readable code with variable names so I could figure out where to add new features. That kinda loses its value if the useful part of the code would only take 5 minutes to reproduce from scratch.

I write Perl like I learned to write C, which means using functions where appropriate, sometimes creating Perl modules to keep all of the related functionality separate so the module could be used from multiple other scripts in the future. I've had new developers come in to a project I was previously working on my own and they were impressed that they could read the Perl code, it was documented, everything was in subversion, etc. If you're doing something with a lifespan and scope of more than one person, keep the next guy in mind when you start. And never forget that the next sucker to inherit your code may be your future self, so be nice to him too.

Comment Re:Perl is better than you think (Score 4, Informative) 133

Totally agree.

As much as Python is touted as the replacement for Perl, compatibility between Python versions is painful. While it's possible to write code that works in 2.4, 2.7 and 3.0, it's much harder and more limiting. I'm sure Python is great for environments where there's only one OS image and version of Python to support, which covers small to mid sized companies pretty well.

However, large enterprises tend to have legacy systems (RHEL 3/4 still run fine in VMs if you don't have to keep up on security patches) and non-Linux based systems. Solaris is pretty painless, but AIX can be painful.

Perl 5.8 has most of the functionality needed to be productive and covers systems with bundled versions of Perl 10+ years old. If you really want to reach, being compatible with 5.4 gets you to almost 20 years ago.

It's not that hard to write Perl so it's readable and maintainable by groups of people, as long as they agree to pretty basic standards. Functionally, it's no different than any other collaborative development.

Perl's biggest strength is how easily it can act as the glue between many different utilities, data sources, etc. There's so many CPAN modules available that it's not hard to find most of the big pieces of code and write what's left.

Comment Re:I don't think it's enough, but I have doubts to (Score 1) 331

Treating stupid kids as stupid kids is far better than the zero-tolerance approach often used.

However, once they decide they want to commit adult crimes, they should have adult consequences. A felony conviction for swatting following someone for the rest of their life seems pretty fair.

Comment Tamper evident (Score 5, Interesting) 88

From TFA: For those interested, FIPS140-2 Level 1 means that a device has at least one standard ("approved") security algorithm or function and Level 2 means that physical design is tamper-evident.

He seems to think little of the product, but it appears to me it meets the requirements just fine. It's obvious that his key was tampered with, and nothing was done to try to extract key data from the device. Basically, he can take one apart, but there's little chance someone's going to take my Yubikey in the middle of the night, duplicate the key data, and put it back without me noticing something is wrong. Sure, the NSA could probably do it, but they can't have the time with listening to everyones grandmas phone calls. =)

Comment Re:Stupid question: how do you use it? (Score 3, Interesting) 88

It's a second factor in two factor authentication (2FA) for applications that support it.

The one I find to justify it entirely is LastPass. All of the random sites on the internet that need credentials can have automatically generated passwords that are stored encrypted and I never have to remember them. I just have to remember the LastPass password and have the Yubikey setup with my account. The Yubikey integration requires a LastPass Premium subscription.

Of course, nowadays you can use google authenticator without having a piece of custom hardware or paying for LastPass Premium. But I don't mind supporting good companies with useful products.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval