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Comment: iPhone 4 Meets Washing Machine (Score 1) 295

by lazarus (#46789729) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

My daughter forgot her iPhone 4 in a pocket while doing laundry (commercial-sized front loader in an apartment building). The door locks when you start these. She panicked when she realized (like all teenagers do when they are without their device for 10 seconds) that she didn't have it and that it was probably in the wash.

No amount of convincing could get that machine to stop or open up, so she sat their crying for the entire wash cycle (I could only imagine what the accelerometer was doing during the spin cycle). When it stopped and unlocked she retrieved the phone and it was fine. Still works today two years later. I suspect the iPhone 4 will go down in history as being a really solid device, although with 10s of millions of them I'm sure there are lots of stories to the contrary.

Comment: Re:HP 15C calculator (Score 2) 295

by lazarus (#46789665) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Thanks for posting this. I had a 15C which I gave to a friend when I got a 28S. The 28S is still on my desk and still works brilliantly. Both calculators are my favourites. The 28S takes "N" batteries which were for "cameras" when cameras still had film in them. So they are getting a little harder to find. It takes a few years for them to die, but I'm starting to stockpile them anyway.

I'm guessing the button cells for the 15C are a little easier to find.

Comment: Re:Nothing new - Always had tech jobs (Score 1) 214

by swillden (#46789551) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

Top two cities with the highest density of engineers are Huntsville Alabama and Palm Bay/Melbourne Florida for what should be obvious reasons.

I'm sure that's true if you're counting traditional engineering fields, meaning not including software engineers. I'm not sure it would still be true if you included software. Of course many would argue that software engineering isn't yet mature enough to be a real engineering discipline, but it definitely is a big part of "tech", which is the subject of discussion.

Comment: Re:do they have a progressive view? (Score 1) 214

by swillden (#46789411) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

I've spent about half of my life in Texas. I've lived in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. I've also lived in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Southern California.

Every conversation about living in Texas I've had with a West Coaster: "How can you stand living in Texas. Everyone is so bigoted and prejudicial?" "Oh really, have you ever been there?" "No." "..."

And, of course, they completely miss the irony in their own statements.

Comment: IBM and SONY syndrome? (Score 2) 54

by goombah99 (#46789149) Attached to: Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

Long ago IBM split itself in to 7 internal subdivisions that could to a certain extent compete. At the time all of IBM's equipment ran on chips made by IBM for IBM products. The florida area sub-unit which didn't actually make any computers, put one together from intel chips. It was dubbed the PC. The OS was contracted out to some kids from Seattle.

Sony's products division is constantly at war with it's content division, leading to the constant hedging on content protection that defeats their products by using non-standard formats with DRM.

Perhaps Samsung, which is really a humungously diverse set of industries, just has different competing segments within itself. Each has a strategy that is aimed at competing with the other divisions strategy but has to be distinctly different due to the internal politics, just like IBM's PC did.

Its not s strategy to do everything, that's just the result.

Comment: Re:Security compiler? (Score 1) 162

by swillden (#46788775) Attached to: Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

Why not a security compiler? Seems some clever, creative hackers could work up something which would take raw code, subject it to some scrutiny and give output/feedback. Perhaps even a security switch to the standard compilers or even a security test suite. Shouldn't be that hard to do.

Shouldn't be too hard... in the sense that solving the Halting Problem shouldn't be too difficult. I conjecture that with an appropriate set of assumptions it's possible to use Rice's Theorem to prove that security analysis is equivalent to the Halting Problem.

Of course, static analysis can catch some vulnerabilities, and can highlight potential vulnerabilities. That's what Coverity does. But I don't think any mechanical process can defeat a creative attacker.

Comment: Inductive Fallacy (Score 1) 162

by swillden (#46788645) Attached to: Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

This analysis is based on an erroneous assumption which is derived from an inductive fallacy. Specifically, the author assumes that because one researcher who found one bug believes he could have found a second for roughly the same level of effort means that the researcher believes this process could be repeated indefinitely. I'm certain that if Kohno were asked he would deny the validity of this assumption. I'm sure he would say that his team could find a handful of similar bugs for similar level of effort, but once the pool of low-hanging fruit bugs was exhausted, the cost and difficulty would rise.

Comment: Re:I switched from sitting to standing. (Score 1) 283

by swillden (#46786967) Attached to: Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk
The desk I have is motorized. Push a button, takes about five seconds. Another option is to get a desk that is always positioned at standing level and a tall chair. That seems cheaper and more convenient but there are some downsides. One is that you have far fewer options in chairs than if you're getting normal-height chairs. Another is that changing the level of the desk is difficult, which is particularly problematic if the seating gets rearranged regularly.

Comment: Re:so? (Score 4, Insightful) 203

by Penguinisto (#46783531) Attached to: Click Like? You May Have Given Up the Right To Sue

They don't pay as much for for preferential treatment as the other guys. Their only need for lobbying is to ensure farm subsidies are as high as possible to force down the market price for grain.

Actually, the best way to force prices for grain downwards is to *remove* government subsidies, since most of them go towards paying farmers to limit their harvest output, thereby keeping per-bushel prices high.

Same with any other non-processed food item - dump the subsidies, and farmers will have to increase production to make up for it. This in turn will force prices down for those food items.

Comment: Re:Better leave now (Score 3, Informative) 211

by Penguinisto (#46783225) Attached to: Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

I suspect things work a bit more linearly than you might surmise. Maybe I just read your post wrong, but let me re-word it to see if I got it right, with a few changes:

Right now, we (as a human civilization) have pumped out radio signals that currently are racing out past the 100+ light year mark. This is stuff we sent long ago (e.g. Titanic's SOS call has reached the 102-light-year-mark, other early Marconi radio broadcasts in Morse code, stuff like that.)

The initial contact is the bitch - you send something out to a planet 50 ly away, hope someone is there and is capable of listening at that moment, along the frequency band you sent, has his antenna pointed at the same vector from which your signal is originating, has sufficient technology and skill to discern it as a intelligent/sentient message created intentionally. Oh, and you'd better hope something in-between doesn't obliterate the signal on its way there, and that it was powerful enough to not be diffused too much.

Meanwhile, your alien recipient not only has to receive it, but he needs to be capable of sending something in return. If he can decode what you sent and then send a suitable reply - bonus! If he sends something with the same pattern back, okay.

Now we get to wait another 50 years before the reply gets back here, we still have to be around as a civilization (with the right equipment!) to hear it, have someone interested in listening for it (what, 100 years after his grandpappy sent the original signal?), and again, hope the alien dude didn't decide that maybe a different and random (to you) frequency band would have been better to send the reply with... and toss in the same hazards experienced when sending the original request signal.

(...and you thought postal service was slow...)

Comment: Re:What now? 1 billion! (Score 2) 272

by Penguinisto (#46781095) Attached to: Apache OpenOffice Reaches 100 Million Downloads. Now What?

The sad part is, MS Access barely qualifies as a database, but most of the "techies" I spoke to at a ghost-hunting conference last weekend** heaped praise on building a "database" with MS Access - they intended to put it on their website for collaboration between ghost-hunting groups, much to the cheers of those various groups who were present.

I stood up and quietly began asking questions of the guy who announced it. 30 minutes later, after realizing to his horror just how insecure and craptastic Access is for Internet use (I had to explain the risks and hazards in layman's terms, which made things slow-going), I gently introduced them to MySQL (which should be more than sufficient for their needs). I offered to help construct a basic setup for them to use once they sorted out how they would introduce privilege separation and suchlike. Next up (if they haven't abandoned the idea completely), I'll introduce them to the concept of a CMS. The guy leading the effort nodded blankly when I walked up to the podium afterwards, gave him my business card, and told him to call me when he was ready.

By the time I got done talking, I was surrounded by a bunch of people (various new-age and definitely non-IT types) who just stared at me slack-jawed and soaked it all in. The one and only other human being in the room who knew what I was talking about was doing his level best not to giggle (he's on my wife's local team, and his day job is web development). I should mention that most of these folks can be wizards at basic EE concepts (with lots of gaps), and can make a sound file do anything just shy of your laundry... but IT is a great big blank to most, and the deepest most of them go is to, say, use wordpress.

As a side-note, I now know fully how Bruce Campbell felt when he shouted at the villagers about his "boom stick!"

So yeah - Access would probably be about it for most folks.

** Why was I there? My wife is really big into this sort of thing, and as any married man knows, you either go along with her or you're a dead man.

Comment: Re:I switched from sitting to standing. (Score 4, Interesting) 283

by swillden (#46778589) Attached to: Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk

I'd recommend a standing desk to anyone with the willpower to make it through the transition.

And I'd recommend a sit-stand desk to anyone at all. Even if you don't stand all the time (I don't), being able to spend part of your day standing will make you feel better without discomfort, in fact being able to switch back and forth is more comfortable than sitting.

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.