Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: Forty is at your prime (Score 3, Insightful) 286 286

Already well north of 50 I may be prejudiced a bit, but I would say that at 40 a person is entering their prime decade. At 40 you are mature enough and experienced enough to have some wisdom, but you are still young enough to have your energy intact without having to work too hard at it. You are entering the peak years of power and influence, on average. Some peak earlier, some later, but most people are just entering the time when they have the most potential to affect their own lives and those around them, whether professionally or personally. Most of us have older kids by this time, and we are actively mentoring our teen children (and getting a lot of eye rolls and groans). But I say enjoy your forties - you're at the top of your form. It can continue into your fifties if you work at it, but that's up to you.

Comment: There are several areas where it can be possible (Score 1) 720 720

There are areas of IT where some companies would consider someone with your history. Not every position in IT will deal with corporate security or information that falls under privacy issues. Depot services where you would be refurbing systems returned for warranty replacement are one place where systems that you deal with would only have factory images. There are also IT-related areas like servicing peripherals (printers and copiers, for instance) where you might be able to get a foot in the door.

Another area you could find work in is small business IT, where relationships count more than blunt instrument corporate policies that legislate common sense out of existence. There are many small businesses that might consider allowing you to do IT support if you are up front about your history. Not all, mind you, but many.

If you are a programmer, and you have the chops for it, you can work a non-IT job to survive and choose an Open Source project to contribute to. Become a significant contributor to the project to demonstrate your programming ability, establish your personal brand and present yourself as a knowledge leader. Or if you're interested in security, for instance, become an expert in your field, present to Small Business Chambers and other business groups, write, and give away lots of free information. Give away some expertise to establish your reputation, and then you can market yourself as a consultant. The more you can specialize in a specific vertical market niche, the more profitable you can become. Once you have built up your business, then you may even be bold enough to publish your story: from convicted felon to sought-after consultant. It will take time, but it can be done, but it will take chops in marketing and brand management as well as programming, security, or whatever your technology skill may be.

Comment: Re:Interesting - quantum effects (Score 1) 201 201

Neither did Shawyer suggest the EM drive created virtual pairs, but the last sentence from the technical report says that since no known electromagnetic phenomenon can account for the observed thrust, the EM drive may be demonstrating "an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma". The quantum vacuum virtual plasma is the reference to vacuum fluctuation, or virtual particle/anti-particle pairs. If I understand the report correctly I believe he is suggesting that virtual particles may be providing reaction mass, but at this point the key word is "may". The test observes thrust but the mechanism is not yet fully understood.

If the proposed mechanism is what is causing the thrust, then once the momentum has been transferred to the thruster by accelerating them (electromagnetically it seems) then it doesn't matter if they annihilate afterward. Once the reaction mass has left the thruster, it no longer has any connection to it, so what happens to it does not affect the original momentum transfer (or thrust). In the same way, with a water rocket, it doesn't matter what happens to the water once it leaves the nozzle of the rocket. It can fall to the ground or flash into steam by going onto hot metal or coals. It doesn't matter to the rocket what happens to it, as the water (the reaction mass) has already left and has no further connection to the rocket.

Comment: Interesting - quantum effects (Score 4, Informative) 201 201

The Wired article speaks of Shawyer's EMDrive, which has been around for some time, and at first appears to confuse the EMDrive with a different technology Dr. Harold "Sonny" White of NASA has been working on for some time.

The tech report clears things up a bit. The test results are showing anomalous thrust, however NASA is reticent to attribute the thrust to Shawyer's theory of how it operates, which would violate conservation of momentum (hence the "impossible" in the title.

What the technical report says is something far more interesting. Dr. White has been working with several different test articles which use electromagnetic forces to increase the rate of virtual particle pair production in the quantum vacuum, then using the virtual particles during their very short time of existence as reaction mass. In other words, it is a reaction drive, but instead of carrying reaction mass in the tank, the investigators are trying to use mass borrowed from quantum vacuum plasma to generate a small, but measurable, amount of thrust.

The final sentence of the technical report contains the salient material:

"Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. Future test plans include independent verification and validation at other test facilities."


Comment: Re:Bu the wasn't fired (Score 1) 1116 1116

He may have resigned, but even if it wasn't a firing de jure it was a firing de facto. There was no going-away celebration and a glowing farewell speech celebrating his considerable accomplishments and contributions to the company. There was a blog post that said Mozilla should have done better and acted sooner.

Those who support progressive causes at Mozilla and other companies would do well to remember the principle of "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it", lest they become the very thing they have been protesting against, even a very short time ago.

Comment: Adware/Malware distinction? (Score 1) 177 177

My own definition of malware is "Any piece of software on your computer which is under the control of someone other than the computer owner." Under this definition adware would be considered malware.

Antivirus vendors of course refer to several classes of malware, including rootkits, trojans, viruses, worms (all of which classifications derive from the method the malware uses for propagation and activation). The actions of malware are various as well - botnets, rootkits, keyloggers, phishing redirectors, crypto-extortion, fake AV are a few. Adware including browser hijackers, unwanted toolbars and other unwanted BHOs seem to be the category at which the new Microsoft targeting is aimed. These sorts of programs are called PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) by the AV vendors, though under my definition they would be classed as malware.

Microsoft have made a further distinction in adware as "any program which brings up ads in ANOTHER PROGRAM." These are what would be blocked. and this is not unhelpful, however one should remember that Microsoft's malware protection has been decertified by most antivirus ratings consortia, so how good the MS product will be is anyone's guess.

+ - That time the US dropped a hydrogen bomb on a backyard in S. Carolina-> 1 1

Lasrick writes: In this incredible excerpt from Eric Schlosser's book "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety" Schlosser describes some pretty horrific accidents involving nuclear bombs. They often seem to involve an airman grabbing the manual bomb release lever by mistake. Honestly, it's amazing we aren't all dead.
Link to Original Source

Comment: Another starter resource (Score 4, Informative) 106 106

Before you develop any bad habits it would be excellent to get a good handle on how to organize data. _Database Design for Mere Mortals_ by Michael Hernandez is an excellent source for this and you will be able to breeze through it with your programming knowledge. You already know data types, but this book, which does not contain a single line of code, is a good primer on data organization and techniques for making relational databases function efficiently.

+ - Widespread issues with Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook->

tbg58 writes: Users of Google Apps for Business who use Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook (GASMO) are reporting widespread issues since Google deployed an updated version (3.3.x) of the sync utility designed to accommodate Microsoft Office Outlook 2013. Previous versions of GASMO did not support Outlook 2013. The most frequently reported issues are being caught in an access authorization loop, Outlook repeatedly going into offline mode. Although nothing about the issue has been published in the news, issues are widespread, as a visit to the GASMO Google Group (link included) shows.
Link to Original Source

Comment: No directional antenna needed...use free tools. (Score 1) 884 884

Step 1: Isolate. Use a spare PC, add a NIC and use Untangle Lite (free) which has very good. Turn off DHCP in your router, use it as an access point only. Let Untangle hand out addresses. Get the perp's MAC address and reserve his IP addresses. Use Untangle's report feature to build up a dossier of all his activities over a few weeks. See what he's doing.

Step 2: While compiling the reports, use HeatMapper (free) on a notebook or netbook to locate him. It won't be any problem to find his AP in the signal map.

Step 3: After you have the data, mail him a copy of the reports and the heatmap to let him know you know what he's doing, and invite him over for a cup of coffee or other beverage of your choice. Be sure to tell him you don't want to turn him in or blackmail him, but you would like to talk geek to geek. Tell him you're going to disable WPS and change the WPA key, but you'd like him to try to hack in again, and tell you if you've left any open vulnerabilities. You can end the leeching and might just gain a buddy worth having.

Caveat: Of course you want to send a copy of the report to someone else to hand over to Law Enforcement in case he turns out to be a terrorist or freakazoid with implements of destruction to use against you.

+ - Computer-Designed Enzymes may provide help for Celiac Disease-> 2 2

tbg58 writes: An article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society describes how researchers used computers to modify the structure of a naturally-existing enzyme to target the immunogenic peptide implicated in celiac disease.

"The application of computational protein design tools has been demonstrated to introduce functional properties beyond those obtained by natural evolution, such as producing enzymes that perform functions not found in nature, altered specificity of proteins for their binding partners, and the de novo design of fold topologies"

Researchers report the use of computational protein design to engineer an endopeptidase with the desired traits for an oral enzyme therapy (OET) for celiac disease which not only targets the desired peptide, but is also resistant to digestive proteases and the acidic environment of the digestive system.

Link to Original Source

+ - California's Surreal Retroactive Tax on Tech Startup Investors->

waderoush writes: "Engineers and hackers don't think much about tax policy, but there's a bizarre development in California that they should know about, since it could reduce the pool of angel-investment money available for tech startups. Under a tax break available since the 1990s, startup founders and other investors in California were allowed to exclude or defer their gains when they sold stock in California-based small businesses. Last year, a California appeals court ruled that the tax break was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against investors in out-of-state companies. Now the Franchise Tax Board, California’s version of the IRS, has issued a notice saying how it intends to implement the ruling — and it’s a doozie. Not only is the tax break gone, but anyone who claimed an exclusion or deferral on the sale of small-business stock since 2008 is about to get a big retroactive tax bill. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are up in arms about the FTB’s notice, saying that it goes beyond the court’s intent and that it will drive investors out of the state. This Xconomy article takes an in-depth look at the history of the court case, the FTB’s ruling, and the reaction in the technology and investing communities."
Link to Original Source

You can't go home again, unless you set $HOME.