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Comment: Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (Score 1) 195

by vidarlo (#47473407) Attached to: The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

Highspeed trains need special tracks. Creating these tracks involves confiscating a lot of land from people along the way.

Roads also need a lot of space. So I don't entirely see your point. Maybe roads need 20% less space or something, but it's not like they need no space.

Doing this creates many lovely opportunities for corruption in government as the route can go a lot of ways depending on who influences it.

We have solved huge parts of that in Europe. We do it with open goverment, post journals showing mail that has arrived to a government agency, political hearings were everybody can send in their opinion, and the agency has to comment and publish all hearing comments. This mostly works. In the cases where it doesn't work, a sufficiently pissed of party can take the case to court to have the process reviewed.

"It says something about the state of train travel in America" yeah it sure does. It says that people would rather drive than be subject to that TSA garbage.

Straw man. We don't have TSA garbage on european high speed railways. And while I can take the train for long distances in the Europe, I believe I'd be taking a plane in the USA, exposing me to that very TSA garbage.

Comment: Re:Don't forget to burn the ribbon (Score 1) 244

by vidarlo (#47455387) Attached to: German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

Oh there's so many vulnerabilities with electric typewriters, especially the single-use ribbon. Manual typewriters with a fabric ribbon that is re-used might still need to be burned.

Yes, there is security vulnerabilities. But compared to a computer, containing millions of lines of code, and the capability of running arbitary software, a typewriter is a very simple envirorment, with fewer unknown and bugs.

Securing a simple envirorment is easier than securing the complex. Take a Selectric typewriter - you can check the software manually as it's probably quite short. You can easily verify it, and there is NO reason why any other software should be present. This is not the case with a computer.

Or mechanical typewriter - no software, so the only storage mechanism is the ribbon.

So yeah, a bit of physical security is needed. The ribbons needs to be handled as classified. The drums may contain imprints, and neads to destructed safely. Sound might reveal something, so the room needs soundproofing and checks for unwanted bugs. But compared to a computer, it's quite trivial, and the security is within the reach of even a small organization.

+ - Skydiver catches meteorite on video->

Submitted by vidarlo
vidarlo (134906) writes "A Norwegian skydiver, Anders Helstrup, caught a falling meteorite on video. This is the first reported instance in the world of his happening, and the rock fell close to the skydiver. NRK writes:

Although Helstrup is still not completely convinced that it was indeed a meteorite that flew past him, the experts are in no doubt.

“It can’t be anything else. The shape is typical of meteorites – a fresh fracture surface on one side, while the other side is rounded,” said geologist Hans Amundsen.

The video in the article shows the metorite. It's in the dark flight phase, with low velocity."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Ok seriously though ... (Score 2) 367

by vidarlo (#46543905) Attached to: Linux May Succeed Windows XP As OS of Choice For ATMs

Or are they thinking they will go it alone and continue to update their Linux distro/kernel just because it is open source? Do they really think they are qualified to do that? Or is the hope that they can spend money to keep the OS in long-term-support status?

That is not as hard as it sounds. There's already tons of mission critical in-house applications in banks, some of them probably quite a lot more complex than an OS with some drivers and an application on top of it...

Comment: Re:This is a case of manual override (Score 2) 664

by vidarlo (#46310075) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration
What you're asking for is basically an emergency stop. The problem is that in some cases this can be dangerous as well. What if there's a truck 30 feet behind you, and you suddenly by accident (or inherent fault) activate the emergency stop? Safety is complex, and I'm not sure emergency stop is a good idea here, as it introduces it's own problems.

Comment: Re:Email? (Score 1) 79

by vidarlo (#45788079) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Build a Morse Code Audio Library For Machine Learning?

I'd recommend using e-mail. It's open to everyone to use, and they probably already have registered one. They can provide any and all metadata in the free-form text field known as "body", and it even supports multiple file attachments!

But it also means getting the metadata as free-form-text, which is likely to need interpreting before processing. A HTML form on the other hand will provide, by comparison, quite standardised data format. It also provides an easy file upload facility.

Writing something in PHP/Python that accepts uploads and stores metadata in a database is not very much work to hack together. The main work will be deciding the fields and so on. A form can require an entry in the field for antenna type, whilst in e-mail it's easy to forget a field.

The main challenge I guess is to get people to submit information...

Comment: Re:It's pretty simple (Score 4, Informative) 371

by vidarlo (#45734025) Attached to: How a MacBook Camera Can Spy Without Lighting Up

If they cared even remotely enough to do that, then they would have already hardwired the indicator light to the same power source as the camera so that one couldn't be run without the other regardless of the firmware.

This is essentially what apple did, according to the report. They connected the LED to the standby signal, which normally has to be disabled to read data from the camera chip. So far, so good.

But the camera chip also has a configuration register - and one of the register options are to disable listening to the standby signal, and go ahead without caring about this signal. So it looks like the designers overlooked that option, or didn't think about it as a serious scenario.

So my impression is that apple has gone further than I've imagined to make a good design, but sadly not a bugfree design. Remember that all designs, hardware or software, may have bugs.

Comment: Re:Not really news... (Score 1) 569

by vidarlo (#45269223) Attached to: Why Is Broadband More Expensive In the US Than Elsewhere?

In a truly deregulated market, the cost of entry for one cable company would be the same as for another. In a heavily regulated market that we actually have (at the local level) the first company had a very much lower cost of entry due to special deal with the local government.

This is wrong at two levels. First, when technology was new, a monopoly was sensible, to ensure access to telephone for most people, because building lines was expensive. Building lines in a city may be profitable, but not in rural areas. A monopoly can force a entity to provide coverage both places, in exchange for a (limited) monopoly. So yes, the community can indeed be better of by granting a monopoly in some situations. Second, even if it's a free market, the first actor will always have the upper hand, as they have more potential customers to pick from, and it is more unlikely that a customer will switch once they have a provider. Building a copper/fiber network to the curb is damn expensive, so not many players are able to this. So if we'd not have monopolies, we probably woudn't have as good coverage, and if we didn't have monopolies, the first player would still be favoured. Norway also had telco monopoly, building the network up to ca. 1995. But the government owned telco has been regulated into providing the copper for other DSL telcos, for a fixed price (~10$ month per customer), and the other DSL telcos can rent rack space in Telenor's facilities for installing DSLAMs and so on.

+ - New Real Life Laser-Rifle Cuts Through Metal Like A Blowtorch->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "We've seen real laser guns before, pulling off tricks like starting small fires, or popping black balloons. That's cool, sure, but it's got nothing—and I mean nothing—on this crazy handheld laser rifle that eats metal for breakfast. Developed by TWI this laser-cutter was initially designed for use by robots, but a few recent tweaks including a pistol-grip and a trigger made it into a human-sized rifle that spits invisible fire like some crazy laser dragon. The rifle is designed specifically with nuclear decommission in mind, specifically chopping up huge pieces of metal infrastructure into bite-sized bits are easily disposed of. And while it's definitely suited for that, it has some short-comings compared typical rifles. That range is pretty low, for instance. And it's not exactly mobile. Also it requires quite the get-up. But damn is it incredible to watch."
Link to Original Source

+ - Why Free Software Is More Important Now Than Ever Before->

Submitted by jrepin
jrepin (667425) writes "It is now 30 years since I launched the campaign for freedom in computing, that is, for software to be free or “libre” (we use that word to emphasize that we’re talking about freedom, not price). Some proprietary programs are very expensive, others are available gratis — either way, they subject their users to someone else’s power. That’s the fundamental issue: while non-free software and SaaSS are controlled by some other entity (typically a corporation or a state), free software is controlled by its users. Why does this control matter? Because freedom means having control over your own life."
Link to Original Source

+ - Snowden Strikes Again: NSA Mapping Social Connections of US Citizens->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "The New York Times is reporting ( on yet another NSA revelation: for the last three years, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information.

  The NSA can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

In a memorandum, NSA analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists. Analysts were warned to follow existing “minimization rules,” which prohibit the NSA from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a “U.S. person” — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping."

Link to Original Source

+ - Italian Man Who Used Infrared Contact Lenses To Cheat At Poker Sentenced->

Submitted by dmfinn
dmfinn (2840625) writes "It was back in 2011 when Stefano Ampollini and two other accomplices cheated a French Casino out of over 90,000 euros thanks to the help of Chinese made Infrared Contact Lenses. According to French authorities, Ampollini and two casino workers marked cards using an invisible liquid that would be picked up by the Infrared Lenses, which Ampollini then used to read his competitors cards. Though the contacts themselves cost over 2,000 euros, the crew managed to take 71,000 euros in their first night. However, the trio was finally caught when a lawyer working for the casino became suspicious after Ampollini folded with an unbelievably good hand, which suggested he knew the croupier's cards. This week, a French court sentenced Ampollini to 2 years in prison and a 100,000 euro fine.His main accomplice was handed an even harsher sentence, forced to pay the same fine but spend the next 36 months behind bars. It appears, despite their best efforts and advanced tactics, that the men were still unable to beat the house without raising significant alarms. So, at least for now, it seems modern technology still can't simulate good old "luck"."
Link to Original Source

+ - x86 Computation Without Executing Any Instructions->

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) 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

+ - GE Canada struggling to find PDP-11 programmers for its nuclear control systems 5

Submitted by AmiMoJo
AmiMoJo (196126) writes "A representative from GE Canada has posted a job offer to the Vintage Computer forum for a PDP-11 assembly language programmer. Apparently the original job posting failed to turn up any qualified candidates to support the nuclear industry's existing robotic control systems, which they say they are committed to running until 2050. If they are having trouble finding anyone now one wonders how hard it will be in 37 years time."

+ - EU Committee Votes to Make All Smartphone Vendors Utilize a Standard Charger

Submitted by Deathspawner
Deathspawner (1037894) writes "The EU has been known to make a lot of odd decisions when it comes to tech, but one committee's latest vote is one that most people will likely agree with: Standardized smartphone chargers. If passed, this decision would cut down on never having the right charger handy, but as far as the EU is concerned, this is all about a reduction of waste. The initial vote went down on Thursday, and given its market saturation, it seems likely that micro USB would be the target standard. Now, it's a matter of waiting on the EU Parliament to make its vote."

COBOL is for morons. -- E.W. Dijkstra