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Comment: servoing systems (Score 1) 341

Having programmed large parts of a control loop for a nearly 1000 tonne instrument with only 6 degrees of freedom and about 11 engineering parameters, with response times of the order of a second, I'd hate to be responsible for the programming of a servo control loop for a 5.9terratonne complex biological system with response times of centuries.

Imagine the ringing oscillations of that.

And what's the step function when we finally do cark it as a species? Self-solving problem, I guess.

Comment: Re:Native American Hearing and a Loud PC (Score 1) 371

by tconnors (#46136919) Attached to: How loud is your primary computer?

I too can hear my hard drive. It's my trigger to look at the HDD light (why? It's mainly reflexive. Not like I can tell what caused the activity that way). Of course this only works with traditional drives, not SSDs.

Heh. I've heard my SSD. It was in an external enclosure at the time, and I guess there was an internal switchmode voltage converter that had to work harder when there were reads and writes going on.

Transportation

When Cars Go Driverless, What Happens To the Honking? 267

Posted by timothy
from the beeping-insane dept.
blastboy writes "The potential upside to getting rid of drivers: 'Today car horns are still a leading source of noise pollution in urban centers. India's honking problem is so severe that the response to it—from both activists and government officials—mirrors the response to an actual epidemic. Officials in Peru, meanwhile, began treating honking like a serious crime in 2009, threatening to confiscate the cars of people who honk when they shouldn't.'"
Businesses

Reuters: RSA Weakened Encryption For $10M From NSA 464

Posted by timothy
from the 30-pieces-of-silver-seemed-too-derivative dept.
Lasrick writes "As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned." Asks an anonymous reader: "If the NIST curves really are broken (as has been suggested for years), then most SSL connections might be too, amirite?"
Technology

The Quietest Place On Earth Will Cause You To Hallucinate In 45 Minutes 332

Posted by samzenpus
from the did-you-hear-that? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Industry Tap reports that there is a place so quiet you can hear your heart beat, your lungs breathe and your stomach digest. It's the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs in Minnesota where 3ft of sound-proofing fiberglass wedges and insulated steel and concrete absorbs 99.99% of sound, making it the quietest place in the world. 'When it's quiet, ears will adapt,' says the company's founder and president, Steven Orfield. 'The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.' The chamber is used by a multitude of manufacturers, to test how loud their products are and the space normally rents for $300 to $400 an hour. 'It's used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things — heart valves, the sound of the display of a cellphone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard.' But the strangest thing about the chamber is that sensory deprivation makes the room extremely disorienting, and people can rarely stay in the dark space for long. As the minutes tick by in absolute quiet, the human mind begins to lose its grip, causing test subjects to experience visual and aural hallucinations. 'We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark — one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes,' says Orfield who says even he can't stand the quiet for more than about 30 minutes. Nasa uses a similar chamber to test its astronauts putting them in a water-filled tank inside the room to see 'how long it takes before hallucinations take place and whether they could work through it.'"

Comment: Re:Why even publish this study? (Score 1) 668

by tconnors (#45176831) Attached to: A Ray of Hope For Americans and Scientific Literacy?

2) Refused to even allow debate about gun-law reform as children are murdered in movie theatres and preschools. (2012)

That's because some of us are intelligent enough to have observed that criminals do not obey laws. We have also observed that governments which disarm their people become tyrannical. Want my guns? Come get 'em.

Zowie. Apparently Australia has turned tyrannical when I wasn't watching.

3) Held hostage the national debt forcing the most austere sequester in federal government history, leading to spending cuts and furloughs (2013)

Good. Any spending cut is a good spending cut. As it turns out, us fiscally conservative people you hate use our money more wisely than the government does.

Aha. How do you get to work? How will you get to work when roads can't be funded out of general revenue anymore (using Australian terminology). Note here that I'm assuming that since you are a good republican voter, you drive a massive fuck-off SUV built in detroit via subsidised car companies, and shun that horrible socialist public transport system. Note that road registration systems never provide for funding of the road despite uninformed opinions to the contrary - that expense is simply far too large for any feasible user pays system - the user would revolt.

If you were to get a proper representation of the Tea-Party demographic (the three-C's: climate-change deniers, creationists, capitalists), you would find that there are more GEDs and high-school drop-outs than college elite. You would also find that multiple studies have proven that the college elite (read: EDUCATED) tend to be liberal.

You might not be patting yourself on the back if you'd stood in line to vote in my precinct. Obama's biggest constituencies seem to be welfare trash, non-English-speaking immigrants, drug addicts, and various other dregs of the big city.

Oh wow, special. And it's ironic perhaps to think this article is discussing science education. Where's your data?

Comment: Re:Premium not enough? (Score 1) 274

by tconnors (#44668353) Attached to: Workers at Chile's ALMA Telescope Strike Over Working Conditions

How is that cheating? I thought that is a simple demand and supply rule.

  No. The cheating part is the accepting the offer and then refusing to do the work; without advance notice. I am all well and good with interviewing with the employer, and then refusing the offer by telling the prospective employer that it's not enough -- and you'd love to work for them if they'd increase teh amount.

  It's called blackmail. "I'm going to suddenly stop doing this thing that I promised to do"

Qantas went on strike in Australia a couple of years ago. As in, the company temporarily ceased to trade and banned their workers from entering the premises, because they weren't happy with how the employment negotiations were proceeding. Of course, all the conservative hacks and politicians applauded Qantas manglement for doing such a thing with absolutely no notice (to the point where passengers were stranded locally and overseas).

The same people try to make it illegal in the other direction of course.

As an ex-telescope operator (who left incidentally because I was pissed off with manglement) with friends at ALMA, I say ALMA and their member signatories may be getting what they deserve.

Comment: Re:System QoS (Score 4, Informative) 46

by tconnors (#44493807) Attached to: How the Leap Second Bug Led Facebook To Build DCIM Tools

How often does the leap second bug recur?

That one? Once. Seen plenty of different style leap second bugs (too many - leap seconds should be a relatively easy calculation, but we only get to test them once every 3 years or so, and in real time because it's kinda hard to convince a global time keeping system that a fake leap second is about to happen for testing. Still, I'd rather we fixed the software than do stupid things like get rid of UTC like some idiots are proposing), but one that causes a futex loop in java processes (and the opera web browser) just the once, and mostly only on RHEL6 and debian ~wheezy kernels at the time.

If It is known to occur, then why would such platforms be relied upon instead of patching it ahead of time?

The point of bugs is that they're not known to occur beforehand. This particular one was quite neat in that it wasn't the leap second code itself that was at fault, but it was the mechanism ntp used within the kernel to inform the kernel that a leapsecond was coming up. At least it didn't happen over the public holiday New Year period this time. I knew Monday was going to be a busy day in the datacentre when I saw my 3 laptops at home exhibit the problem on Sunday morning though.

It seems to me that developing new DCIM solutions is a bit of a stretch to solve the leap second issue. Or is that just an excuse to fund new DCIM solutions (in other words, a solution in search of a problem)?

Anything can cause a kernel or userland software to suddenly enter a hard loop burning through CPU cycles and thus power. And in a large homogenous environment, that bug can be triggered in many locations all at the one exact moment in time. Another good example might be the RHEL6 bug that affected us around the same time last year - the old "uptime has reached a hundred and something days, let's overflow a counter and kernel PANIC now!" bug. We found out about that bug after patching all of our systems, found out that it only applied to the version of the patch we managed to apply, and had to start planning to bring the next patching cycle forward (but at least we knew about it) . You'd think these were the kinds of bugs that we learnt about in 1995 and were never stupid enough to put such bugs back into the kernel, but it seems every generation must learn about it for themselves instead of reading their Operating System text books.

The point of these bugs is that anything might cause a large fraction of your machines to start chewing through electricity. In an overprovisioned environment (VMs, power, thin storage, whatever), you want to know about them before you trip your fuses/run out of memory, fill up all your disks.

Advertising

Retail Stores Plan Elaborate Ways To Track You 195

Posted by timothy
from the just-ask-at-the-casino-what-works dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Retailers are experimenting with a variety of new ways to track you, so that when you pick up a shirt, you might get a message about the matching shorts. Or pick up golf shoes at a sports store and you see a discount for a new set of clubs. New technologies like magnetic field detection, Bluetooth Low Energy, sonic pulses, and even transmissions from the in-store lights can tell when you enter a store, where you go, and how you shop. Just last year, tracking was only accurate within 100 feet. Starting this year, they can track within a few feet. ByteLight makes the lighting tech, which transmits a unique signal that the camera in your phone can read. The store can then track your location within about 3 feet — and it's already in use at the Museum of Science in Boston."
Oracle

Oracle Sues Companies It Says Provide Solaris OS Support In Illegal Manner 154

Posted by timothy
from the larry-may-I? dept.
alphadogg writes "Oracle is continuing to crack down on companies it claims are providing support services for its products in an illegal fashion. Last week, Oracle sued IT services providers Terix and Maintech, alleging they have 'engaged in a deliberate scheme to misappropriate and distribute copyrighted, proprietary Oracle software code' in the course of providing support for customers using Oracle's Solaris OS. Oracle's allegations are similar to ones it has made in lawsuits against other Solaris service providers, such as ServiceKey, as well as Rimini Street, which provides third-party support for Oracle and SAP applications."

Comment: Re:first (Score 2) 334

by tconnors (#43958937) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Promises Profanity Over Linux 3.10-rc5

When RAM is plentiful and cheap and even your average smartphone has more than 1GB of RAM are you sacrificing anything by only using a few MB of RAM instead of GBs?

Your *average* smartphone? I don't choose to throw out a perfectly workable smartphone Every Damn Year, so my year old phone only has 384MB of RAM. It still works, but some modern apps that add glitz at the expense of functionality are becoming seriously painful on it.

You sir, are what is wrong with the planet today. Too many teenage developer weenies that are so abstracted away from the machine that they've forgotten how to program efficiently. "Oh, but I need all that RAM to make my program cache things so it can be quicker". So why is it so much slower to fire up a pdf viewer on my phone with 384MB of RAM than what it was to fire up on my 12 year old laptop with 128MB of RAM?

All of my machines are maxed out. All of our rackfulls of ESXi servers at work are maxed out. Adding more RAM is not *easy*. Making devs do their jobs would be easier.

Comment: Re:Linux's Biggest Threat is Human Engineering (Score 3, Interesting) 252

by tconnors (#43868053) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is GNU/Linux Malware a Real Threat?

From your link it seems the actual danger is in copy/pasting and then hitting enter BEFORE looking at what it is you typed. If you select something to copy, then paste and notice the pasted output is significantly difference to what you selected, alarm bells should ring very quickly (unless the difference is really subtle of course).

Hint: copied text can contain embedded newlines. And the first line of text will be some obfuscated form of stty -echo, if you have read the posted source, so you won't even know.

Then again, this seems mostly hypothetical. Does anyone actually have an example of something like this being used in a nefarious way on a Linux site?

Well, it's impossible to prove something doesn't exist, and since this whole slashdot story originated because someone's computer did something unexpected, perhaps the OP is an example of where this was used?

Comment: Re:Gee, that's very un-trendy (Score 1) 153

by tconnors (#43748533) Attached to: Ubuntu Developers Revisit Replacing Firefox With Chromium

WhyTF would anyone want an inbuilt PDF viewer?

A browser is supposed to display whatever I click on - any file, any format. If it can play sound, play video, display photographs, display text... then why not a PDF? Seems strange to have one document format that it *cannot* display, and requires an external application to render.

Or did you want the browser to call an external program for things like .gif, .mov, .aiff - anything that is not plain old .html ??

Yes please, because those dedicated programs I have installed do a far better job with less memory and resource usage than a bloatware browser that tries to compromise on everything. You know, "do one job and do it well" kind of Unix philosophy.
(I do let my browser run animated gifs and SVG because they do it well enough. But I download .flvs whenever possible and play them in a media player, because the proprietary flash plugin on Linux is incompetently programmed, and the free plugin couldn't do Youtube last time I looked at it.)

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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