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Comment: More than One Keyboard to Prevent Damage (Score 1) 452

by seawall (#49276255) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard?

  Having gone through some hand nerve damage over the years I found it useful to have more than 1 keyboard;
  having my hands in different positions during the day has proved useful to preventing further problems.

  Most of my typing is done on a Unicomp Model M, which is very much an IBM Model M. I type most
  reliably there although the I can type longer at the Kinesis models and probably would be almost as fast if there
  if I really devoted the effort to it.

I find the clickety-clack of Model M type switches cheerful and I need all the happy thoughts possible when
debugging Ansible scripts.

I probably wouldn't inflict that on people in an open office.

Comment: Re:Let me be the first to say. (Score 4, Informative) 117

by Mr. Protocol (#49198045) Attached to: Harrison Ford's Plane Crashes On Golf Course

I saw the incident from my back yard. I was out there working on a Mr. Protocol column when I heard a particularly loud single-engine plane take off. What caught my attention was a sound I've only ever heard in the movies: the engine stuttered once, then stopped dead. I got up and looked to see if what I'd heard was really true, and saw the plane, with prop not moving, bank sharply in a 180 degree turn and start gliding back to the airport. I listened for a crash, since he was rather low, but didn't hear one. I'm glad he made the golf course and missed the neighborhood. (Look at a map: it's pretty obvious that the sole purpose of the Penmar Golf Course is to catch planes that don't make it. It happens often enough that I've wondered if they have course rules for playing around temporary obstacles with wings.)

Comment: Had that problem, now much less so. (Score 1) 312

by seawall (#48539243) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

Two things helped me so far:

1) A Sleep Study

  I thought I was sleeping well because I fell asleep easily and stayed asleep. Nope: That
  was my body trying to make up in quantity what the sleep lacked in quality. I thought my problem was
  caused by too many electronic distractions (yeah some, but not most of it).

  You don't get enough deep and REM sleep, you don't have focus and your ability to remember new things takes a BIG hit.
  My problem was ridiculously easy to treat and I deeply regret spending several years not realizing I was being fuzzier than
  I needed to be for want of a couple slightly uncomfortable nights wired up.

  2) Turning off the router at night

  Also helpful: I put my home router on a timer. 10pm, BANG! No internet on anything but my phone, which is OK to use
  for short periods as an internet device and keeps me in touch if need be. Nonetheless it's much easier for me to decide to close
  my eyes now. That probably only works because my phone screen isn't very big.

Comment: Health Issues a Real Possibility (Score 1) 275

by seawall (#47977283) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

At my job it was noticed I was getting increasingly conservative about the systems. Some of that was justified but eventually I found I had a medical problem that made learning new things hard; it had been gradually messing with memory....very very slowly so as to be hard to notice until it became obvious something was very wrong indeed and being fired became likely.

    Learning new stuff when you can't reliably remember what you learned the day before will rapidly decrease ones enthusiasm, even if one recognizes change as necessary.

    Before losing insurance, I started insisting on checking out possible causes. If you're lucky (I was) there might be a simple fix: diet change, CPAP, whatever. That's the good news. Not so good: the longer a problem goes on, the longer it may take to recover and one may never get back to 100%. Very scary but it's better to get back 90% than to continue to degrade.

    I'm convinced that for some significant fraction of older workers, this kind of thing can be some or all of their problem and I urge people reading this who have memory and learning problems they didn't use to have: check out stuff like sleep apnea, vitamin deficiency and the like.

Comment: It's not just the hardware, it's the algorithms (Score 2) 213

by Mr. Protocol (#45757403) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can Commercial Hardware Routers Be Trusted?

All the crypto software I've looked into depends on big internal arrays of special numbers to do its work. If those numbers are compromised (which is what NSA contracted RSA to do, basically), then the whole end-to-end crypto channel is compromised.

And that's the problem. You can build an open-source hardware router with open-source software, to keep the possibility of hardware backdoors to a minimum, but if the basic crypto algorithm you use has been compromised from the get-go, none of it matters. I think that's going to be the next really difficult intellectual load to lift: vetting ALL of the current crypto algorithms in use today to make sure the algorithms don't have built-in compromises. Since that vetting has to be done by crypto experts, not just software engineers, that pushes the trust back up one step: which crypto experts do you trust?

+ - x86 Computation Without Executing Any Instructions->

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa writes: Trust Analysis, i.e. determining that a system will not execute some class of computations, typically assumes that all computation is captured by an instruction trace. A team at Dartmouth College shows that powerful computation on x86 processors is possible without executing any CPU instructions. They demonstrate a Turing-complete execution environment driven solely by the IA32 architecture’s interrupt handling and memory translation tables, in which the processor is trapped in a series of page faults and double faults, without ever successfully dispatching any instructions. The 'hard-wired' logic of handling these faults is used to perform arithmetic and logic primitives, as well as memory reads and writes. This mechanism can also perform branches and loops if the memory is set up and mapped just right. The lessons of this execution model are discussed for future trustworthy architectures.
Link to Original Source

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it. -- Donald Knuth

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