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Comment: We have been using robots on farms for years (Score 1) 113

by thogard (#49498929) Attached to: Drought and Desertification: How Robots Might Help

The best modern farm equipment can grow alternate crops in alternate rows. It can be done in a way that is sort of mix between what had historically been done by using seasonal crop rotation and planting trees as wind breaks.

The system works by using a high precision DGPS system so the tractor wheels are in the same spot every year so the rows stay in the same places. The hills can also be mapped so that the side of a hill may get processed first or last in a season and the amount of fertilizer or planting depths of crops can be adjusted for optimum yield or land protection.

Many of the California farming areas were settled after people left the mid-west dust bowl. Most of the dust bowl problems were a result of not using the best farming techniques when a drought worsened and it took lots of time to rebuild those areas. Those areas also get massive amounts of rain from time to time from hurricanes hitting the Gulf of Mexico. California doesn't have that advantage.

Another odd thing is there seems to be some connection between early crop failures in the midwest that predate the dust bowl and those crop failures started screwing with the futures markets which some have claimed was the start of the stock market crash and great depression.

Comment: Re:Should be micro kernel (Score 2) 207

by thogard (#49467681) Attached to: Linux Getting Extensive x86 Assembly Code Refresh

It was a monolithic kernel. One of the interesting features were devices drivers were modules and there was a small device node module which would say stuff like "used module 'serial driver', call it tty4 at IRQ 2 and address 0x454040". The kernel would deal with all IRQs in the hardware and then run the IRQ callback funtion in the proper module. That allowed user level device drivers back in the early 1980s.

Another cool feature was each software module had a CRC so it could detect bad binaries. There were ways to whitelist and blacklist based on CRC values.

Comment: Re: Too many pixels = slooooooow (Score 1) 263

by thogard (#49418785) Attached to: LG Accidentally Leaks Apple iMac 8K Is Coming Later This Year

24 bit color is a problem. Out of those 16 million colors, about 1/4 are greys and about 1/2 are browns. The remaining 4 million are slightly more than a million of each of the reds, greens and blues leaving less than a million in the rest of the spectrum. When it comes to shades of oranges your limited to only about 60 that most people won't say are brown when viewed in isolation.

The flipper displays that use 18 bits are even worse and are way too common.

Of course the real fix for this is to run HSV rather than RGB to the display and let it work out how to drive the pixels.

Comment: Re:Contract contingency? (Score 1) 536

What is the problem with getting it installed before he moved in? I had to pay for termite inspection for a house I bought since I wasn't about to trust anyone else. If I hadn't spotted a radio tower I could link to, I would have had DSL installed in the house before I moved in. The costs of pulling out out of a DSL contract are much cheaper than trying to cope with a house in an area where you can't get connectivity.

Comment: Re:Postgres has referential integrity (Score 1) 320

by thogard (#49298667) Attached to: Why I Choose PostgreSQL Over MySQL/MariaDB

The OID concept does fix a common problem. Take a typical CRM database where you have customer account and a ship to address. At some point, the ship to address for a customer gets updated to their new office yet someone wants to check where an old order was shipped to and the programmer didn't think of it so now reprinting the old invoices show the new address. It is amazing how many times I've seen that type of problem cause massive issues in data integrity.

Comment: Re: ECC Memory (Score 2) 180

by thogard (#49222557) Attached to: Exploiting the DRAM Rowhammer Bug To Gain Kernel Privileges

ECC might be able to help the attack. If you know the state of memory and the associated ECC values you would like and can calculate a designed bit pattern with the same ECC that meets the requirements, you may be able to get the ECC hardware to flip the bit for you as you hammer bits that don't matter as much.

Hammering memory to induce writes where they shouldn't happen has been done for decades. It was used back in the days when you needed high voltages to do writes in eeproms when people found out that you could use a 5V write power supply and sometimes get bits to change if you tried enough times.. Related techniques have been used with bubble memory and iron core as well.

Comment: What stupid patents? (Score 1) 99

by thogard (#49179767) Attached to: Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary?

A friend's boss saw him talking to a valve actuator using a tapping device and told him to talk to the patent lawyer about the invention. The "invention" was using a single wire to talk to something inside containment areas where drilling holes was a bad thing so wires could cost about a million a conductor. The resulting patent application didn't have that bit in it. It did have the use of a single wire for sending code using a keying device to another device. He ended up with a patent for using Morse code complete with encoding and everything else that was invented long ago. The bit about using the old technology in a unique way was missing.

Comment: Can too healthy be bad? (Score 2) 134

by thogard (#49179677) Attached to: Treadmill Performance Predicts Mortality

There is an old test known as the Schneider Index which was used by the US Navy for divers and pilots in the 1940s. An old movie called "Dive Bomber" shows details of how the test was done at the time. The test ended the flying careers for many pilots at the time if their score decreased much. It turns out that the guys who did best in the test were the ones most likely to pass out on dive bombing runs. The Schneider Index uses reclining heart rate, blood pressure with standing and then rapid activity for about 30 seconds and then factoring in increase in pulse, BP and the time to return to normal.

Comment: Re:How much CPU power & storage in HDD control (Score 2) 324

by thogard (#49161743) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

There is enough flash and ram to run Linux on the controller. I've seen it done at Ruxcon/Breakpoint where the hard drive booted up to the point where it couldn't find a root disk to mount.

It is trivial to make firmware that watches for things like /etc/shadow files and returns something else. You can have this code activate by searching for data that would be logged and hunting for the magic key and that is trivial since every system logs to disk.

Comment: Re:At Bat (Score 1) 78

by thogard (#49100115) Attached to: Australian ISPs To Introduce '3-Strike' Style Anti-piracy Scheme

I've seen the baseball diamonds near my house used exactly twice. Once involved using it for fireworks. It was built around the time of the 1964 olympics like nearly every baseball diamond in the country.

When a bat is going to cost you $300 and a full uniform and gear to play on a team is close to a $1000, there isn't much demand. The Melbourne girls baseball teams positions are more about forfeits than wins.

I don't know why the local baseball teams need such formal rules with such official imported uniforms. What ever happened to wearing a shirt the right colour?

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.